How to Accept the Unacceptable

love-heart-acceptTwitter rocks. As a newbie twittering for all of four days, I can say with confidence that it is a sign of the connectedness that we are. Twitter, like the internet which makes it all possible, connects us with like and unlike-minded people from across the world regardless of nationality, age, race or religion. This became clear to me when on my second day of twittering I posed a simple question to my new friends “What do you find most difficult to accept in this world (ex: cruelty)” and the tweets came rolling in. The replies I received were not only immediate, they were deep, insightful and oh so introspective.

What is Most Unacceptable

Ignorance for @klasinki , lovelessness for @kevinpmiller, laziness for @KristieMcNealy, fatality for @CindyKing, bullying for @Courageous_one, mediocrity for @LewisHowes, political parroting for @BlueSkyDrive, and independence for @ChrisRomer, which he skillfully argued can have many negative effects though independence is typically embraced in our society, to which I found my head moving up and down in hearty agreement.

I asked this question because it is a question that has been rolling around in my brain all week, marinating there you could say. After days of kicking this around and searching for my own answer, it finally came to me loud and clear…‘cruelty’.

Why cruelty?!? What makes it hardest to accept? I cross examined myself. Why not apathy like @gourmeted? Or racism like @betterinpink? Why not the number-one-top-choice for hardest thing to accept in the world per all the many tweets I got that day, namely intolerance? Intolerance was, after all, the only word to be mentioned by more than one tweeter, submitted by @joegreenz, @TracyOconnor AND @klasinski as well.

A Closer Look

Cruelty. It dawned on me that whatever the answer, I was going to have to take a closer look at it, this thing I cannot accept above all other things in the world. Why? Because many, many, many, many years ago in college psych 001 (yeah, I said MANY) I learned about this thing called “projection” and it’s haunted me ever since. Now whenever I point the finger this word crops up and asks me to take a long hard cold look at myself in the mirror. You just happen to be reading my long hard cold look.

@gloreebe88 responded to my Zen riddle of a question with not an answer but a statement. She replied with a tweet that spoke of self forgiveness and how so often the thing she least accepts in another is the very thing she least accepts in herself. BINGO. After clarifying this awesome point of distinction she did retweet me with her answer…arrogance. Yes. Awesome. A most humble of answers @gloreebee88.


Pausing to look at our resistance to accept ANYTHING is worthwhile, especially as parents. As the saying goes, what we resist persists. This was made clearly evident for me this weekend in the area of cruelty when from upstairs I heard shrieks and cries of pain and injustice from not one but both of my daughters. I took the steps by two and three from downstairs to upstairs from whence the cries came and arrived on the scene to find my eldest in a bath and my youngest on the floor by the tub holding her foot, both I tears. Both cried, whined and began to simultaneously make their case for justice to be served on their behalf against the other. The scene was chaos. My mind fed me many things, none of which were born of love or tolerance I have to say. More like fear and judgment. “What the @#@@!” I said in my head. I had not witnessed the grievous wrong doing that had apparently transpired, nor did I want to know the details or pick a side. Instead, ever King Solomon, I took my fear and judgment out on both daughters. I did this in the normal ways we all act out of fear…in not only my thoughts, but in my words and deeds as well.

Yes, fear and judgment of this thing I had just declaired I can least accept (cruelty) had a grip on me . It was there in my glaring stare, disapproving voice and pointing finger which worked to distance my girls from one another and stop the cries (like nails on a chalk board for me…so hard to “be with”). Only later was I able to examine my response. My daughters had acted cruelty to one another. So what was my response? Was it loving? No. Was it present? No. Did I model forgiveness and tolerance? No. Was my response triggered and ineffective? Yes. Did it leave me stressed out and a little off balance? Yes again.


Ahhhhh. So here is the reason for this question that has plagued me all week. What can I least accept? Why? How does this render me ineffective in making a difference in this area? Many have said it much better than I:

“Whatever you dislike in another person, Take care to correct in yourself.” – T. Spratt

“Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” – Confucius

“The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love, compassion, and a sense of universal responsibility are the source of peace and happiness.” – Dalai Lama

The irony was not lost on me that the number one answer that I received to the question “what is the hardest thing for you to accept in the world?” was intolerance. It IS hard to accept un-accepting people in the world…isn’t it? Perfect. Beautiful. Full circle. Accepting the un-accepting; accepting the unacceptable…especially in ourselves. What a great place for us to begin.

Unconditional Love

So it’s time for me to try my word on for size. Where am I cruel in my life? When do I treat others less than lovingly? How am I cruel to my own kids? To my husband? My dog? The planet? Nature?…including my plants that I keep forgetting to water. Ha. And then most importantly, can I forgive my own cruel nature? Can I stare at this list I just made on all the cruelty that is me and still love myself? If so, then I am learning to forgive. If so, then I am learning to love with an awesome sort of love; the unconditional sort. And if not for myself, then who can I love this way? Lot’s or questions this week…i know. But many times it’s in the asking that we find our own answers.

This week, let’s practice accepting the unacceptable, especially where it exists in our own self. By loving and forgiving this place in ourselves, we’ll be that much more able to love and forgive it in our children, our community, and our world. Darkness never made the darkness any lighter. We can only hope to effect the things that we can “be with”, so let’s all do our best and accept the unacceptable within.

Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers life coaching as and parenting tips through the positive parenting e-Book Yogi Parenting.


  1. Spuriousness.

  2. Thank you, ZM, as always, for your Zen. My brain wasn’t very forthcoming on this answer, but I teach 8th graders in a very well-to-do and mostly politcally-conservative school district, so I hear a good deal of “political parroting” on a daily basis. A more forgiving term would be “modeling,” but what I’m really going for is the word that describes how people use others’ ideas and opinions as their own, without really considering the meaning behind it. The “My boy’s wicked smart” scene in Good Will Hunting comes to mind, with the arrogant grad student caught spouting verbatim the theories of others. I think the OPPOSITE of the word I’m looking for is “honor.” (Practical Mommy will remember the matrix of virtues I borrowed to discuss truth, love and courage…) There is the Truth, and then the Courage to speak it from one’s own head and heart. The failure to do THAT irks me.

  3. Zen Mommy says:

    thank you adam and practical mommy for sharing your most un-acceptables…so does this mean you will join me in searching for and L-O-V-I-N-G these things with-in…as well as out there in the world? :p

  4. ZM, you and I are on the same wavelength. Must be the season (as Lent began last Wed.) for introspection.

    I, too, have reacted in cruel outbursts when my children were young, and judged myself harshly which brought me further down the “I can’t love myself this way” river.
    It was only after I asked forgiveness from my children that I found it in my heart to forgive myself. I let myself swim to the surface, so to speak, where the light is, and did not keep myself under water with my own judgments against me.

    Then we were all free with forgiveness and ‘freed up’ for integration.
    Thank you, Zen Mommy, for your transparency.

  5. Ann Louise says:

    Gosh – Zen mom! What came to mind was something totally different. For me, the hardest thing to accept is “trials” or “tribulations” Which as we both know we all will have. I think these two incompess many of the other things that people say. What I find most difficult in the world is why it is not “easy.” Why there is suffering, hatred, discord etc… And so many of these large things come or start with trials and tibulations. I’ll be going to sleep with this in mind.

  6. So Adam, aren’t we really saying the same thing? NOT being authentic. Or lacking the courage to be who you are? Your TRUTH. I’m NEVER going back! 😉

  7. Ria, when are we NOT saying the same thing?

    and ZenMommy, yes, we are All pretty much always saying the same thing, or is that too broad a brush? Zentropy?

  8. I was drawn back to this post AGAIN tonight when I was faced with… yes, my limitations. When I am reminded of “living less than my truth,” I get so angry! Isn’t that what this post is about… “accepting” and loving that part of me too?

    I know the vehemence with which @lewishowes says “mediocrity” It is the same emotion with which I spit out “spuriousness.” But ZM, your next question of how to then EMBRACE it. I just don’t know how. How do you embrace the idea that is the OPPOSITE of your #themeword??? 🙂

  9. you forgive it… in yourself. ( this safely falls under the “easier said than done” category…tee…hee…but it is quite possible and VERY REWARDING. forgiveness.)

  10. Wow.. as you may know by now, this link was just tweeted to me, thankfully, ‘cuz I forgot all about that you were working on this!

    Do you know “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie? You might totally love it… AND i think it would be great to read while you wee ones are still wee. Wish I did. 🙂 Would probably have considerably less gray hair…

    Great post ZM!!

  11. A belated response to your posting: –

    Sometimes we must not accept the unacceptable. On occasions it is necessary to protect people from it. There is unacceptable within the normal spectrum of what it is to be human. That may be a wide spectrum, but the unacceptable that lies upon it can be examined, responded to, contended with and resolved. Here understanding, repentance, forgiveness and acceptance are possible. There are other places where it is not safe to be, particularly for children.

  12. Andre, Thank you for commenting and reviving this discussion!

    If by saying “sometimes we must not accept the unacceptable” you are saying we must not deem it “okay” or “just” I agree with you. By accepting something (like my kids hurting one another in the piece) it is not to say it’s okay, but to offer up the idea that when we witness an injustice or a “wrong” happening in our world, if we are able to hold a space of love in the midst of the wrong-doing we are in the mindset of the divine and true healing can occur. (hence “accepting” the unacceptable) If we instead react or respond from the mind of fear, pain, judgment, etc it is truly understandable… so many impossible things exist in this world for us to accept. Rape, killing, hatred, child abuse, prejudices of all kinds. But will healing be present if we hold our own pain up against the pain we witness in the world?

    Being with what is — non-judgment. Certainly a challenging places to go in the face of so many unacceptable things… but a helaing one for us to consider. As parents we often face things in our own children or families we may perceive as “unacceptable”. Can we hold love present when we do? This is the take-away I hope parents leave with.

    I respect your perspective and thank you greatly for sharing. I’d love to hear your thoughts further on this!! What a fun way to start my day, reviving this old post. Forgiveness has to be one of my favorite topics. Namaste.