We can dislike but respect differences
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2015
Along with autonomy comes differences. The world would be bland with unity in every endeavor. We can travel different paths without fear or disrespect for different preferences.
We long for acceptance; we crave appreciation. Developing core values, such as kindness, patience, and compassion, doesn’t guarantee acceptance. For whatever reason, some people will still dislike us. It’s their prerogative. We naturally drift towards some people and away from others. We can’t allow being disliked motivate unhealthy behaviors, nor should we act mean to those we dislike. Creativity and individuality ultimately make a person salient enough to be either liked or disliked. Without prominence of character, we become a dull grey, drawing indifference from the unnoticing crowd.
Some people will not appreciate our creation, not because they are flawed, or we are flawed; but because humans have preferences. We maybe overbearing or course or they may be overly judgmental. We may need refining and they may need flexibility—or perhaps, it’s just a bad match of personalities. Jealousy, misperceptions or unsubstantiated biases may sabotage closeness. And this is okay. Being universally accepted isn’t a prerequisite for healthy living. A person isn’t bad because they don’t like certain people—even if that includes not liking us.
Certain personalities grate on our patience but may blend nicely with someone else. We waste precious energy justifying prejudices, gossiping to bring others into our circle of influence—agreeing that Sally is bad. Perhaps, we should just accept that we dislike someone, leave it at that, instead of fruitlessly digging for evidence to explain away our right to dislike. Understanding everyone has different preferences should lighten the emotional impact of not being liked. It’s not a personal indictment of us—or them. You can dislike me, dislike my writing, and dislike my choices without your dislike condemning either of us.
We’ll never please everyone. If continual acceptance is sought, we lose a defining ethical anchor; relationships become shallow, only connecting on the surface. We can satisfy our needs for connection without losing the self. We bond through skillful negotiations of a shared life, giving and taking, enjoying being loved for who we are, while loving our partner for who they are. The path for these intimate relations travels through the fields of vulnerability, exposing the self, and allowing others to like or dislike the genuine person living inside.
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