Our culture trains us to compare ourselves to other people. We measure ourselves in relation to others. So when you compare two brands at the grocery store- do you look at what is the same or what is different? You look at what is different, right, so you can buy the better item.
So what do we do when we meet other people? Often, we compare the things that are different in each other. We differentiate ourselves from the other. Developmentally speaking, this is essential in post-adolescence in order to differentiate ourselves from our parents. But how many of us continue to differentiate ourselves from each other as adults. It may be out of habit or maybe we just never learned another
way to relate. And, it is not nearly as useful as an adult- it causes us to focus on the things that are different.
Why not change our lens to focus on what we what have in common with people? We may be different- but focus on the common ground between us. Common experiences. Common phases in life. Common values- even if our beliefs are really different. Maybe we both value integrity, honesty, and treating people kindly- but have different religions, for instance.
Once we have common ground, we can learn from the differences in each other. We get value understanding how other people see things. It gives us the strength and wisdom of diversity.
To change the world, we are going to have to join with and trust people that are different. Hanging out with just people that seem to be like us will not be enough. We need to connect with people that are different and stand on common ground.
It is cool concept now- but in the not too distant future, we may need to find common ground with people in order to survive.
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.