We all judge; and have our opinions on how things should be and how people should act. We get turned off if somebody acts in a way that doesn’t live up to the way we want things to be. At the end of the day we are all different and it comes down to unconditional love and acceptance. ~ Lenny Kravitz
By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
There have been many great leaders urging us to accept each other as equals. The foremost leaders for my generation were President John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. President Kennedy said, “If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity”. Martin Luther King Jr’s: “I have a dream that my four children…will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” is still revered.
We call the United States the melting pot, yet we have been striving for more than two centuries to fully accept our diverse members. Our Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our Constitution was written to support these inalienable rights. Yet it took a Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation before African Americans had the right to live freely, and an additional 50 years before the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote. And still there are groups that don’t have equal rights, so the conversations continue.
Some of our identities, like ethnicity, are handed down through generations. Other identities are ours to experience alone, and we especially feel the need for acceptance by society, family and self. If any of the three aren’t present there is a tendency to become fearful of isolation and disconnection. Fear is a powerful emotion and can lead to anger, despair and even self-loathing.
FOSTER ACCEPTANCE OF SELF:
- While you strive to be the best you can be, resist comparing yourself to others.
- Look within at the perfection of your inner being to find and then appreciate your true self.
- To avoid feelings of isolation seek those who most resemble you. You may need several different groups of people to accomplish this.
A diverse society allows us to see and understand those who don’t appear to be like us. It doesn’t require agreeing with the other or their beliefs. Rather, acceptance suggests that we look at another without fear. And avoid False Evidence Appearing Real (F.E.A.R.). Fear occurs when a person thinks that their way of existence might be threatened, and this often leads to non-acceptance, prejudice or discrimination.
Acceptance provides more than peaceful co-existence. When you accept another for who they are and allow them to be authentic, you experience a relaxed internal experience. In contrast, fear carries a lot of weight and negative energy.
The goal is to move beyond simple tolerance to celebrating the rich dimensions and differences contained within each individual and across our planet. I’m thrilled to see that many of our youth and young adults describe people’s skin color just as easily as other generations point out hair color. Though seemingly small, it’s a sign of growing acceptance.
Everyone wants to be accepted. Though tolerance is not the same, it is an acceptable mid-point in the process. Here’s how you can foster acceptance:
- Help others to find the similarities between self and other rather than focusing on the differences.
- Remember that differences don’t imply inferiority, even if someone is viewed as minority.
- Provide opportunities for children and adults to meet people who are not like themselves. This can include skin color, ethnic heritage, faith traditions, physical or cognitive differences, clothing styles, etc.
- Acknowledge the risk that another person takes to be their honest self, and the additional risks that they take to be seen authentically.
- Connect with another’s emotional pain, and experience the empathy that can be felt for another.
- Teach children, and encourage adults, to look at people’s character and not their appearance.
- Advocate for the rights of all people.
Fear creates separation, and this impacts your sense of well-being and peace. Additionally, fear can sabotage your own happiness or lead to the prejudice of others. Strive to see another’s true self and be cognizant of your own insecurities. This is the time for us to come together to make life better for ourselves and all of humanity.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become Who You Really Are. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
Published in MY Magazine August 2013