It’s so easy to live in your own bubble. To ridicule ideas that aren’t in your echo chamber. To give zero latitude to concepts that are foreign to you.
Too bad. For to live a full life, a rich life, you need to enact the lessons you learned in kindergarten. First lesson: play well with others.
Why do we have to do that? Why can’t they just conform to us or go elsewhere? There should be different schools for them or maybe they shouldn’t even be here.
Now if you think I’m talking about immigrants, you’re right. Kind of. But I’m also talking about American Blacks, Hispanics, gays, disabled, kids, teens, elders, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. etc. etc. People that are nothing like you. Or just a little bit like you. Or, a member of your tribe but so completely different they may as well be living in a different universe – think: Orthodox and non-observing Jews; Moderate and Trump Republicans.
Living in your own bubble is boring. Nobody challenges you; nobody disagrees with you; nobody ever asks you to explain why you think the way you do. Everything is pleasant – on the surface. It may seem like nirvana. But it’s artificial. It’s shallow. It’s born of fear. Big Brother is watching you. Your tribe will disapprove of you. No coloring outside the lines!
People have a right to be different. Why? Because they are different. People come from the same family, yet have different passions. The same generation, yet have different beliefs. The same religion, yet view God differently.
Damn, even dogs are different and accepting of each other. And are intrigued by each other. And want to smell each other. And run around and play with each other. If they can navigate differences without crashing on the rocks, why can’t we? We are the higher species, aren’t we?
There are benefits from getting to know those who are different from you. Isn’t it possible they might bring to the table ideas you find intriguing? Life experiences you find captivating? Might they arouse your curiosity? Widen your perspective?
We live in a big wide world. So, next time you run into someone whose ideas are quite different from yours, don’t try to show them how wrong they are. Don’t denigrate them. Don't shun them. Instead, be curious. Ask them questions. Be empathetic. Listen. See if you can grasp a bit of their viewpoint even if their way of living makes no sense to you.
Recognize that you are not right about everything. You may be wrong. Or, partially wrong. Or, it may have nothing to do with right or wrong. Just different. Different childhoods. Different baggage people carry with them. Different communities people live in. Different experiences they’ve had. Different shows they watch. Different books they read. Different temples they attend.
Having friends who are just like you, and bullying those who are different, is no great accomplishment. Indeed, it smacks of high school all over again. So, now that you’re an adult, it’s time to recognize that you’ve got a cognitive bias. What’s that? It’s making inferences about things from your subjective reality, yet believing it’s the absolute truth.
So, go beyond your cognitive bias. Be open to getting to know people who are nothing like you. Hear their experiences without judging them. Expand your social networks. Get outside your bubble. We need to live with and work with people of different races, religions and belief systems.
Copyright © 2017: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email
or visit her website at PsychWisdom