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Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's OK to Be Different - Learn to Accept Yourself!



Have you ever been judged? Have you ever been made to feel "odd" or "different"? We all have unique personality traits which go against the norm. Because of these differences, we are sometimes judged and made to feel odd or that there is something wrong with us. Because we live by set of rules and expectations, we in turn judge others by our standards. Our invitation in life is to be authentic and to operate under values that are true for us and allow others to do the same. This genuineness might make us unpopular and misunderstood but it will liberate us to be the person we were created to be. In order to be authentic, we need to understand and accept our distinctive personality style and feelings. We need to have the courage to believe that it is "OK to Be Different".
As children, we have learned to survive by being conventional; most of us gave up our right to be who we are in order to accommodate those around us. We ceased to be authentic because of a desire to please those we love and the comfort in the familiar. Being a conformist certainly made it easier for our teachers and parents but was it easier for us? By minimizing or dismissing our preference, we pretend that our inclination is "no big deal" but conforming and denial of our true self comes at a cost. The cost is that we step back from what is true for us and we use a great deal of energy to maintain the pretense that everything is fine. We disassociate from our feelings and hinder access to the Divine.
Through my training, I have discovered that some of our idiosyncrasies have more to do with our innate personality, upbringing and culture than obstinacy. For example, my Meyers Briggs Personality Style TM is often judged "cheap" by others. My personality type values conservation, minimalism and thriftiness and avoids frills and extravagance. As a result, there will always be "enough" food for a gathering, but it will be a moderate presentation, as opposed to overload. The preference is to choose modest and practical over lavish and abundance, especially when it comes to oneself. This moderation is then judged by others as "stingy or cheap".
In reality, my personality type is generous but the gift of giving is done privately and without fanfare. Not only do I come to my approach in life innately; I also come from it culturally. I was raised by a humble father, who grew up in the depression and taught us to utilize everything and never waste. His philosophy is perfectly in tuned with my Myers Briggs personality because it honors the conservation of resources. As you can see, my "cheapness" is part of the fabric of my being, in the same way that the person who judges me may be extravagant and lavish due to his personality type or family background. The challenge in life is to suspend judgment. When we begin to accept that it is "OK, to Be Different", we can accept people as they are and learn from their different type of behavior.
We are all human and because of this condition, we are imperfect and at times we disappoint others. If our intentions are pure (and we know if they are or not), we need to ignore judgment and criticism and accept ourselves. The clincher here is that we also need to do the same for others; to accept their difference and allow them idiosyncrasies. The one exception being that we are entitled to step back and disengage from people who misuse or abuse us. For the most part, people are benevolent, lack malice and are doing the best that they can. We need to become conscious when we judge others' peculiarities and differences. This can include physical appearance, such as tattoos, unusual mannerism or behavior. Years ago, my husband and I were in a supermarket checkout line. The woman in front of us was poorly dressed, wearing a thin cotton dress with bare legs and sneakers despite the fact it was snowing out. She had 3 food orders that she was paying for with food stamps. The transactions were taking a long time and the people behind us were quietly grumbling. When she came to the last order, everything stopped when she realized that she did not have enough money. You could have heard a pin drop as the cashier paged the manager. We quietly handed the cashier the amount that was needed. She thanked us with a toothless grin and explained that the food was for her 2 foster children. The judgments that we make! Here was this poorly dressed woman using food stamps in order to feed 2 foster children. How many of us would take in foster children?
Diversity is the spice of life, yet we allow people to judge our behavior and influence our actions while we do the same to others. When we are authentic, our energy is no longer being stymied by a public façade and we release extraordinary power. By accepting who we are, warts and all, we model acceptance for others and help them to feel more comfortable in their own skin. This month, in order to live a life of peace, love and serenity, I invite you to notice when you judge others, suspend criticism and remind yourself that "It's OK, to Be Different".
"It took a long time not to judge myself through someone else's eyes" Sally Fields
My website,, is a combination of Clinical knowledge and Spirituality. Learn strategies to deal with adversity by using affirmations, visualizations and humor to develop inner strength and balance in your Mind, Body and Spirit. Since "one's words and thoughts become one's reality", allow me to teach you simple ways to re-frame your thoughts into a positive thinking pattern, in order to decrease stress and enjoy life more fully.
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