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By A. Devia

Have you ever tried to take someone, exactly as they are?  Your first response is probably, of course, don't be ridiculous, you can't change people.  Liar.  Yes, I just called you a liar.  You didn't mean to lie.  You probably don't even know you lied.  But we all approach other people with a predefined expectation of behavior.  If they don't behave in the way we expect them to, often, we try to make them behave that way, through manipulation, guilt, anger, withholding attention, punishment...the list goes on.  It's not that we are doing it to be mean.  Often we don't even know that we are doing it.  But what if you don't?  What if you take a step back, let go of your predefined notions of right and wrong, and just accept someone else exactly as they are?  It might be uncomfortable at first, but take a closer look.  Does the behavior actually hurt anyone besides your ego? 

For example, you walk in the kitchen to find your child blowing bubbles through their straw.  Your immediate reaction might be to tell them to stop playing with their food.  You were raised this way.  It offends your sense of proper table manners.  I'm not saying that table manners aren't important, they are.  But at snack time when no one else is eating?  What are they hurting?  If you just accept your child's silliness, you are sending a message that they are OK, just they way they are and that sometimes, in the right situation, silly is OK.

How about the father of your child?  How often do mothers hover over a father's should correcting every little thing about how they secure a diaper, put away toys or even interact with the child?  After a while, when everything they do is "wrong," the criticized person will stop trying.  But if you step back, accept that the other person does things differently from you, you might even find that they do something better, worthy of imitation.

I have found that by stepping away from my preconceived notions of "right and wrong" behavior, I often learn something, about the other person, about life, and most often, about myself.  It causes me to question "my" reality and sometimes, I can find a new reality that not only works better for myself, but allows me to get along with my fellow humans, a little bit better.


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