Each of us is unique, like a snowflake. Look around and notice the wide variety among the humans who share the planet with you. Do you see them as unique individuals?

Perhaps we can set aside our preconceptions and opinions and consider the following ideas:

• When you see someone approach a situation differently from you, examine their behavior before you criticize it. Is there “method to their madness”? Think, could the differences be due to cultural or religious training? Is their different approach as functional or more functional than your approach?

• When you see someone radically different from you, list the differences you perceive. How many ways are you actually different on a level deeper than superficial appearance? Do the differences actually matter? Or, are they simply another individual’s way of expressing themselves?

• When you see someone different from you, ask yourself, “Are they acting different to be different, or different to be better?” The two are not the same. It is similar to saying, “it is easier to stand out, than it is to be outstanding.” Difference simply to stand out implies a personality that lacks confidence and has an external locus of control. Acting differently from the crowd to enhance performance takes courage and implies a stable self image and internal locus of control.

• Now, look at your actions and behavior patterns. Do you act the way you do to stand out or to be outstanding? Do you behave to get noticed? Or, do you act for self improvement?

• List everything about others that bothers you. Then, look at each entry on your list and rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 (1-seldom, 5-often). How often do you exhibit any of the behaviors that you listed?

• List everything you like about others. Now compare yourself to the list using the 1 to 5 scale again. A high score this time shows you incorporate in your life, the positive aspects you see in others.

• One final list: what do you do that others might or do consider silly? Why do you do it? Why would they consider it silly? Does it matter if it is silly or not? Does it harm anyone? Are your motives honorable when you exhibit this behavior?

Should others just accept you as you are, silly behavior and all? If you answered yes, consider extending the same “right to be unique, unusual, silly and accepted,” to others. I suggest you will find much more in life you enjoy. And, you will have fewer internal dialogues with yourself on how others behave.

Tim O’Brien writes continuing-education courses and presents seminars on stress management.


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