Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

We have a cookie cutter mold for what people are supposed to be like. In our society, you are supposed to be thin, attractive, professionally successful and popular.  If you aren’t any of these things, then you need to “fix” whatever you are lacking.  We have difficulty accepting people who don’t fit the mold.

Now, of course, we do need to be certain things in order to be proper members of society. We need to be self-supporting.  And we need to be kind – to other people, animals and our planet.  But beyond that, there is a vast world of differences between us, and we need to learn to accept, and even embrace, those differences.

For instance, I find it funny when parents worry that their kid isn’t “popular.” Why?  It is important to have friends, but why is it necessary for your child to be the life of the party?  We all aren’t built that way.  Some of us are naturally introverted, and some of us are naturally extroverted.  We all have different needs for socializing.

For example, I am an introvert. I can go to a party or social gathering for about 1 – 2 hours.  Then I’m done, and I’m looking at my watch wondering when I can leave.  Thanksgiving nearly breaks me every year.  About two hours into Thanksgiving, I am counting the minutes until everyone leaves.  Unfortunately, they aren’t leaving for days. Nothing is wrong with me, and nothing is wrong with everyone else.  We all just have different levels of tolerance for interacting with other human beings.

We also have difficulty accepting different life choices. That is why so many people have a mid-life crisis at 40.  They’ve made life choices based on what society expects of them.  They’ve gotten married, when marriage doesn’t suit them.  They’ve had children, when parenting isn’t part of their skillset. And they’ve pursued traditional jobs, when they should have been working a desk job by day and pursuing their artistic careers by night.  Then they hit midlife and are miserable.  The older I get, the more I realize that getting married at 25, having two children and working in an office suits only a small percentage of people.  Most people need to do something very different with their lives.  And we need to stop looking at people who don’t get married or who don’t have children as if there is something wrong with them.

Globally, our inability to accept our differences is destroying our world. Religion is a good thing, until we insist that our religion is “right” and everyone else’s is “wrong.”  Political discourse is a good thing, until we stop talking about issues and just engage in school yard name calling.  Our inability to accept different beliefs and points of view makes our world a very sad place indeed.

Accepting our differences is hard. We naturally are inclined to think that everyone experiences the world in the same way that we do, but that simply isn’t the case.  My husband always jokes that if I am cold, I assume that I and everyone else in the room should get a sweater.  I think that everyone is experiencing the world in the same way that I do.  But they don’t.

It takes maturity to realize that if someone is different from you, that doesn’t make them wrong. This week, consider your attitudes toward others, whether they be your spouse, your children, or your colleagues.  Do you want them to change aspects of themselves that are different from you?  Or do you accept them for who they are?  Take some time to think about how you can accept others for who they are, differences and all.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus