VALUE THE DIFFERENCES
Do you find that your most thriving relationships happen when you are fully allowed to be yourself and the other person loves you for it? They completely accept and adore you for all of your quirks and differences. In turn, you know that they have their own strengths and weaknesses that are different than yours and you truly appreciate them.
We all want to be seen, appreciated, and valued for who we are. Every person is a unique gift to the world and we all have something special to offer. That being said, in reality sometimes these differences cause clashes in our relationships and it’s not always a bowl full of cherries. Many times in close relationships such as with a significant other, or with parents and children, the tendency can be to make the other person into our own image.
“It is not our purpose to become each other;
it is to recognize the other,
to learn to see the other and honour him for what he is.”
– Hermann Hess
HOW DO WE HAVE THRIVING RELATIONSHIPS AND VALUE THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM US?
· RECOGNIZE THE DIFFERENCES – Yep, people are different than you. We can get into big trouble when we assume that others think the way we think and operate in the same way that we do. We all have different personalities, a variety of past experiences, and our individual personal values can cause us to see things from an alternative perspective. It becomes problematic when we don’t expect diversity and are not open to others who operate in a different way than we do. Learn to recognize how people are unique and distinct from yourself. They have strengths that you don’t. Acknowledge their wonderful qualities that you may not able to offer.
· GET CURIOUS – Rather than being offended by what someone says or what they do differently, (because it is different than what you think or value), try getting curious. Instead of getting upset, ask questions. Ask them questions about their perspectives, experiences, and values. The biggest problems and cause of fights come from not fully understanding what the person is saying or misinterpreting the meaning of what someone intends. Taking the time to get curious and to understand the other person, will continue to add bricks in your solid relational foundation.
· WHAT CAN I LEARN? – You can learn something from anyone if you have a humble attitude and a willingness to learn. What treasures will you discover this week in someone who is not like you?
· AVOID PYGMALION PROJECTS – A leopard cannot change its spots. No one likes it when others try to change them into something that they are not. The term, “Pygmalion Project” comes from a Greek story about a famous sculptor named Pygmalion. He found all of the women in Cyprus to be flawed in some way and decided to create a statue of the perfect woman. His statue was so perfect that Pygmalion fell completely in love with it. However, his misery grew because his statue was lifeless and unresponsive to his love. The “Pygmalion Project” comes into play when we attempt to sculpt others into our perfect vision based on our values, life experiences, personality, and perspectives. Everyone ends up unhappy because when people reluctantly do accept a bit of chiseling, they are not operating in their natural and best self. No one is going to truly change or be comfortable if forced to alter their nature in life. Everyone does their best when they can embody their true self.
· DROP THE COMPARISON - Comparing one person against another one in relationships is not healthy and can be very destructive. The person comparing is not fully open to who the other person is. They are often blind to the good things the person being compared has to offer. For the other person, it either leads to insecurity (if you are the one in the lower comparison), or arrogance (that you are the one being held in high esteem). It is a very fickle game to play in relationships as one can be caught on the receiving side of either end in a matter of moments. No two people will be exactly the same in their strengths or whatever is being compared. Comparisons end up in criticisms which lead toward negative relationships. Avoid comparing people in your life and truly respect the other person. It is most likely they will start treating you with the same respect and honour in return.
· “YOU DO YOU!” - LET PEOPLE BE THEMSELVES – I was recently on a trip with four of my friends in Peru. The trip was two and a half weeks. Being in close quarters you have to make allowances for different personalities, habits, and preferences (and you hope that others are willing to make the same allowances for you and all of your idiosyncrasies!). Towards the end of the trip, I was about to launch into an explanation about my own quirk of something that I needed to do. I distinctly remember my friend cut me off mid-sentence, shaking her head and laughing, “You do you!” Her tone was full of acceptance. What she meant was, “Whatever you need to do is fine with me. You don’t need my permission. Do what you need to do and fully be yourself.” “You do you!” was a very succinct way of stating recognition and acceptance. She recognized that yes, we are different, and she was still fully accepting of my quirks and my needs.
· ACKNOWLEDGE & APPRECIATE OTHERS – I don’t know a single person on this planet who says, “I honestly get too much appreciation in life and it really needs to stop!” I think we all value kind words of gratefulness and for being truly acknowledged for who we are and what we contribute. Try it out in your relationships this week.
We all see life through a different set of lenses. Our perspectives, values, and beliefs are based on our past experiences, personalities, influences, and what we focus on in life. By truly valuing another person with all of their differences, you can learn so much and your relationships will thrive!