Just as most of us have been taught to be other-dependent, similarly most of us have been taught that there is something wrong or bad about being different.
Even when we have been told it is okay to be different, we don’t really believe it because of the way much of society responds to being different. There have been many stories in the news lately reflecting how we see other people in the world and how it can have an adverse affect on our well-being.
Here is a sampling of how much of society around the world responds to being different.
Example 1: Your skin color is different from mine. You are bad.
Example 2: Your beliefs are different from mine. You are wrong.
Example 3: Your government is different from ours. You are bad and wrong.
Can you add some of your own ideas and societal conditioning to this list? Write them down.
Here is some food for thought. We all have different life experiences. Everyone doesn’t see life through the same lens. When you disparage others because they are different from you, if you think it isn’t okay for them to be the way they are and to think the way they think, it isn’t because there is something wrong with them. It is because you are not okay with yourself. You may think there is something wrong with you. The reality is that we judge others to the degree we judge ourselves. We criticize others to the extent we criticize ourselves. Different is wrong and bad for those who are other-dependent.
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, internationally renowned author and speaker says, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
Contrary to different being wrong or bad, there is another way in which being different is thought to be good by some people. When individuals think they are better than others because of their differences, their mantra is: “I am different because I am better than you.” In this case, being different is considered to be good by those who indulge in this type of thinking.