Differences are unavoidable. They are part of what makes us human and what gives the tapestry of society texture and color. There is no question we are all different. We go about our daily lives differently, view the world differently, and react to changes differently. We even enjoy different hobbies and forms of entertainment. While it is true that some differences may never be bridged, it is also true that some differences can be welcomed if we realize how personal differences can actually add to the quality of our lives. Whether between individuals or within ourselves, how do we learn to deal with differences and find peace?
Sometimes when our differences cannot be reconciled we can experience great pain and consternation, particularly in relationships. Often times with couples, two of the most evident issues regarding differences involve money and sex, but many other differing values can cause conflict within a relationship.
Leaving these issues within the relationship unresolved can lead to stress, anger, denial, repression, resentment, and even feelings of betrayal. People can cut themselves off from each other because of the anger and helplessness they fell in bridging the differences between them. Decision-making can also become difficult, or even impossible, as the two people are too far apart in their perceptions of their mutual reality. Blaming can seem easier than finding ways to bridge the gap and live with differences.
Communication and empathy for understanding our differences are key to the process of dealing with differences. Clearly stating one’s concern, truly listening for meaning with full attention, and trying to se the way the other thinks, can give each person a perspective that will lead to acceptance and accommodation. From there, empathy and respect for the other’s point of view can pave the way to building tolerance and a good outcome for both parties.
In Dealing With Differences Part 2 we will provide some helpful suggestions on how to creatively and effectively bridge differences.