How easy it is to make something different from you, bad or wrong. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about all the ways that “different” is just that: different.Sadly, much of our world immediately categorizes anything unusual or “out of the ordinary” as something to be avoided, something to question, and most of all, not something to accept right away.
I get it. As a species, you’re biologically programmed to question what is not familiar to you. That is, in fact, the way that your cave dwelling ancestors survived long enough to keep evolution going.
Problem is, fast forward to today, and many people still react in a similar manner to anything that is “not like us”.
Whether it’s how someone looks, how they talk, what they choose, what their issues are, what they’re good at or struggle with… doesn’t matter. Most people struggle to accept others’ differences as anything other than a defect or flaw.
Accepting differences as not bad or wrong, does not imply that you don’t get to have your own feelings and preferences about something. On the contrary.
Acceptance can ONLY happen after you’ve had a chance to make your way through all of your own feelings and experiences, so that you can make room for others’ experiences too.
That’s the only way.
Developmental theory says that all you can do is support where you are and this will automatically lead to the next step.
So, for many of you, this first step might look like beginning to recognize that you have judgment towards anything that is different than you. This can be hard to see sometimes, especially if you grew up in a family or environment in which everyone was expected to be the “same” or pretty darn close to that.
It’s only by accepting where we are and what is real, can we even begin to move forward
in our life.
For this experiment, here are the steps:
- Find a quiet space in which you can center yourself and take a few moments to bring awareness to what is happening inside of you.
- As you do this, allow a memory of an experience in which you encountered someone different than you to emerge. Perhaps it was someone that did not look like you? Or talk like you? Or like the same things you like? Maybe it was a situation in which someone did not want to do what you wanted. Or perhaps it was someone who had a different opinion or perspective. Take all the time you need to let this memory enter into your awareness.
- As you’re reconnecting with this experience, allow yourself to feel how this person or this situation makes you feel in your physical body. Do you feel calm and relaxed? Do you find yourself tightening up? Just notice this as you allow yourself to have your real reaction to this memory.
- Now, imagining that it there were no right or wrong feelings, ask yourself honestly how you feel towards this person? Do you make them “bad or wrong” in some way? (Bad and wrong energy can show up incredibly subtly, so pay attention to your body’s reaction to them as well. Often, things that we “like”, we feel drawn to and things that we don’t “like” we feel ourselves wanting to move away from or shutting down.) Do you feel yourself moving your energy away from them? Do you find yourself wanting to move towards them? Just notice. Don’t judge yourself and your reaction. When this happens, you’re making yourself bad and wrong.
- Ask yourself if there might be some feelings underneath your reaction to this person? If so, what do you imagine that those feelings might be? Again, just notice. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings. If you find yourself judging yourself, but not others, then there’s a pretty good chance that you make yourself bad or wrong from time to time.
- As you’re in this space, just notice whatever it is that you notice. Feelings are not good or bad, they are energetic experiences that take on the flavor of whatever kind of support you received for your feelings when you were small. Any experience that you are having is just fine.
- Take all the time there that you need. As you feel ready to leave this space and this place, wrap up in this space in whatever way feels important or comfortable to you. And as you feel ready to return to the outside world, begin to do so by first coming back through your body, etc., etc., etc.