It’s all about DIFFERENCE. Two political parties can’t see the good in each other, so they fight to win. Family members can’t accept their child, parent or sibling as “family.” because of their differences from the accepted “family values.” Couples can’t tolerate the differences they have from their partners, and wind up saying to themselves, “How did I wind up with this person?” Or “We divorced because of our differences.” We can’t bear to see our own shadow, because it is so different from our preferred self- image. So what is it about difference that is so very challenging to the human race?
We see countless videos of inter-species connections on line: Elephants playing with dogs, pigs playing with donkeys, cats nursing on a motherly dog. We find them to be heartwarming, why? Because we are faced with their flexibility, lack of judgment, their ability to connect from their essence, and it triggers the essential part of us that feels so trapped by our own intolerance for difference.

Although we are at the top of the food chain, so to speak, we lack the qualities of patience, tolerance, and compassion for one another or even for ourselves. We are taught that things should be a certain way, and that all other

ways of being or doing or feeling are somehow wrong. We have fallen in love with our own image, and make everyone else inferior, in order to bolster it — a very sad state of affairs. It keeps us comfortable, and very, very stuck.

It must begin with self-love, as opposed to self- image love. We need to learn to love our shadow, our vulnerability, our flaws, and be thankful when we fail. It’s the only thing that will keep us humble. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Its 2017. It’s time to re-evaluate what we want and what’s important in building character, to let some “light” in. Take a good look at yourself. Take off the rose- colored glasses, and see what needs changing. Are we becoming or have we already become what we really don’t want to be? Is it too late to change? Do we have the strength to leave this world a better place than we found it? It’s time for some soul-searching. We need time alone to do that. Make a date with yourself. You may be better company than you thought. Give it a try!

Judye Hess, PhD. Is a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Berkeley, where she works with families, couples, groups and individuals. Professor Emeritus from the California Institute of Integral Studies, Judye has taught Family. Couple and Group Therapy at most of the Bay Area graduate programs.

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