Why is it that we have such a hard time with different? Things that we aren’t used to seeing, eating, thinking, believing? Being around people who are not like us. Especially those that are louder than we are, more extreme in their thinking than we are.
Four possibilities exist when confronted with different: avoidance, acceptance, defiance, or integration. Avoidance is by far the easiest. We just choose to stay away from things that are different that we don’t like. The foods we don’t like we simply don’t order. People who are so different than we are that we don’t like we stay away from. Avoidance is both efficient and convenient.
Acceptance is where we don’t adjust our thinking or behavior but kind of “go with the flow”. The different attitude, perspective, person, or thing doesn’t bother us as much. We seem to accept it even though we may not be tolerant of what it is that is different. While this is a more mature response to situations, things, or people that are different, it does not change at all who we are. The risk here is thinking that we are still better than that which is different — hiding this feeling deep inside of us so our ego remains whole.
Defiance is the more emotional response to different. The need to proclaim ourselves right and everything that is different wrong. Defiance is the orchestra of ego and the deafening belief that nothing outside of us can exist or thrive. I find defiance to be the most small minded of any response to different.
Integration is by far the most difficult and speaks volumes about personal change and its difficulty to achieve. It is also the messiest because different doesn’t replace the same within us but rather integration changes the mixture of different and old into something new.
Confusion during this time is healthy as we re-calibrate ourselves to the melding together of different with who we were before we met. Our choices with respect to how we handle different throughout our lives will have a strong correlation to how much we grow and evolve as a person in our lifetime.