When you were growing up what did you learn about how you were supposed to think about and treat people who were different from you and your family? What did your family say? How about your friends? Neighbors? What were the messages you received either openly or by suggestion?
You may not have an answer right off, because this is not a question that gets asked very often. But think about it. It holds the key to better relationships in every area of your life.
We've asked thousands of men and women in the U.S. and overseas. They've all admitted that what they learned, some more intensely than others, was to distrust those who were different. So they kept up their guard most of the time without even realizing it.
What does this have to do with you? We'll get to that in a minute. But, here's another question.
When you were growing up, how were you treated for all the ways you were different from the other people in your family? Were you respected? Were you teased? Were you praised? Or were you brought into line, expected to be just like everyone else or else!?
The people we asked said that they learned to hide what made them different. Some were ashamed of themselves. Some were embarrassed. Some were frightened. And what they decided about themselves was tragic. They decided that they were somehow flawed. It was their fault even when it came to how they were brilliant, talented, beautiful, and all manner of other exceptional gifts.
Think about that. What was it like for you? And here's why it's important. You can't help being who you are. And what make you you? The ways you are unique and, yes, different from everyone else. Now think about being in a relationship.
You are unique. Your partner is unique. That means you both are different from each other. Now if both of you have buried in your unconscious minds the belief that being different is somehow bad, even dangerous, how do you expect your relationship can ever be truly satisfying? It can't be if you're hiding some parts of who you are and judging your partner for who he or she is.
So what to do? First, know that you're not alone. Even a superficial scan of society shows that everyone's wary of those who are different. We've all learned it early in life, just like you did.
Next, you have to want to believe that being different is okay. And why not? Differences are inescapable. Rejecting differences is like rejecting air. They're everywhere, and necessary for life.
And now, about love. What is love if it isn't accepting of all that you are? If you have to go through your relationship fearing and hiding parts of who you are, you'll have to walk on eggs, and that's very tiring. It will also be the ruin of your relationship. If you're married and have children, that will set a foundation for them to be wary of themselves and eventually not be able to feel loved.
Remember, love loves all of you. And love will work its way into your soul shining its light on even those parts you've kept covered up. That's also inevitable. The only way that won't happen is if you settle for false love, the pretense of being emotionally intimate with someone.
Take the time to remember what you learned about differences. Those lessons that bring you joy and pleasure, keep them. Those that don't, that cause you to disguise who you are and judge others, they're not doing you any good. Decide to change your mind. That means decide to grow up and see the world from your own particular perspective.
When you do you will free yourself, you will free those you would have judged, and you will open yourself to a love that you cannot now even imagine.
Can you have it? Of course. The chance is yours. All you have to do is say "Yes."
Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, Ph.D have developed a penetrating perspective on people's resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabulous. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing--they are always succeeding. The question is, at what?