Being Different Is Not Wrong

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

Previously, I wrote about unmet universal human needs and one of them is a sense of Self.

Accepting and being accepted for who we are is hard. Why?

1. We strive for an idea of ‘success' in our own heads.

We are influenced by the environments we grew up in such as our homes, the schools we attended, the neighbourhoods we lived and the society we were part of. Hence, we all have our own unique perceptions of what success looks like. We then set our own expectations of how we should be doing in life based on these preconceived standards.

For example, being successful could mean having a stable income sufficient to support a family to one person, but mean owning a Lamborghini to another, and having lots of friends to someone else. I once visited a Siamese temple and a monk told me that being successful (to him) meant being able to leave his family behind to spend the rest of his life as a monk.

2. We live in a society where people emulate each other.

It is hard be our own self, an individual, in a society that has established norms. Sociologists describe ‘herd behaviour’ in which people emulate other higher status people in order not to feel ‘left out'.

Living as lesbians and gays, single parents, or as deprived individuals with low socioeconomic status, for example, can be challenging as they struggle to be part of a societal norm.

3. “What is good for me must be good for others.”

It is not uncommon for people to feel repressed in their own homes and communities. I have clients who came to see me because they felt repressed or unable to be themselves due to their parents or older siblings or spouses calling all the shots, including telling them what to have for dinner, what clothes to wear, which television program to watch, etc.

They are not given a chance to express what they think or what they want for themselves and some of these clients are 35 or 37 years old, proper grown-ups.

To be fair, some of us do carry good intentions – we want others to avoid the mistakes we made and we hope that they have the opportunities we missed. ‘Too much love', as some would call it, it is something we should be mindful of when relaying our underlying good intentions to one another.

Respecting Differences

Take chillies for example. Not everyone can take hot spicy food and that is not wrong. If we like something, does that mean everyone should like it too? No.

This applies to our own expectations, philosophies, values, etc. If it is unfair to assume everyone can take spicy food, is it not unfair then, to think we should be like everyone else? Or everyone should be like us?