Reducing Stress with Disagreeable People

Reducing stress with disagreeable people requires some education and self-discipline—as indicated in the following comment that was sent to me from a reader of my free monthly newsletter. The article referred to follows his comment.

“After reading, ‘To accept yourself fully is to recognize that not everyone you meet will like you and that you will never be perfect,’  I gave myself an assignment: Look forward to an encounter with that Disagreeable One in my day. Now I was ready with my changed attitude: I didn’t have to win that person over. I could shrug it off and not keep emotional baggage. It was liberating and allowed me to find other times for making a working job relationship. I discovered that I could accept the Disagreeable One on Her own terms and separate from my own. Hey, this stuff works for adults too!”


Many people are searching for acceptance outside of themselves when they haven’t yet learned to accept themselves. Self-acceptance means being okay with WHO you are. It means being kind to yourself even when you make mistakes, fail, or do something that you later regret.

Self-acceptance is a close relative to self-esteem. It is difficult to have one without the other, and, if you have one, you will tend to have the other. There may be many reasons why people have low self-acceptance, but most fall into one or more the following areas:

  • A desire to be perfect
  • A focus on imperfections rather than on blessings
  • An eager desire for approval and to be liked
  • A strong desire to please others
  • An extraordinary concern for other people’s opinions about you
  • Feeling inadequate or some perceived lack of ability or skill

To accept yourself fully is to recognize that not everyone you meet will like you and that you will never be perfect. Humans are fallible. We can never be perfect in all our endeavors for the simple reason that a person cannot learn and be perfect at the same time. We are always learning and growing, and growth is one of the pleasures and satisfactions of living. Regarding pleasing others, the famous comedian Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

You are not finished making mistakes or doing foolish things. Falling is natural; not getting up is the challenge. This requires self-discipline. A happy and contented life is not about what happens and why, but rather about how you deal with your challenges.

The key to gaining self-acceptance is to recognize that you are engaged in a process of continual learning. Sometimes this requires risk, and with the risk comes the reward. Having a willingness to learn and not be discouraged in the process is a requirement of self-acceptance.

Former U.S. Senate leader Everett Dirksen said, “I am a man of principle, and my first principle is a willingness to change my mind.” If your self-talk is one of not fully accepting yourself, you have the option of changing the conversation.

As long as you feel inadequate about yourself in some task or about yourself in general, you are participating in a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the instructions in an airplane are announced, put the face mask on YOURSELF before helping someone else. Your first responsibility is to accept yourself. This requires some discipline. This is essential for accepting others.