Your differences are what makes you special but differences can and have led to many conflicts within the world; from gender identifications, religious beliefs, to simply the choice of clothing you choose to wear. You can get ridiculed and even killed in some societies for such differences and it’s sad that such things occur.
Many of you, including myself, struggle to understand things you are not accustomed to or have yet to experience for yourselves.
But there are steps you can take to become more open minded. There are times people tell you that being open minded is the solution to everything, but the problem is they don’t tell you how to be open minded.
You can’t just say you’re open minded and instantly start accepting everything around you. It takes time, patiences, and thinking and analysis on your part to reconsider the issues you once felt strongly against.
There are many ways you can start embracing people’s differences and here are just a few suggestions:
Isolate yourself from your friends and family members for a day, or however long you decide and pinpoint the issues you are currently against but would like to reconsider such as homosexuality, transgenderism, religious beliefs, etc.
Sit down and grab a piece of paper and try your best to explain to yourself why you feel the way you do about a particular topic. You may realize you feel a certain way because of your upbringing or because of the group of friends you surround yourself with and instantly start backing away from said beliefs because you see the ridiculousness of such views.
We are often influenced by people we are around and it’s not a bad thing, by any means, but sometimes when you write down why you feel a certain way you become more rational because you isolate their views from your own true views.
But if you don’t come to this realization from documentating why you hold certain views then try the following additional steps:
Watch documentaries, read books, or listen to individuals who holds differing views than you and listen to their life experiences – whether good or bad. Sometimes explanation of the struggles they have experienced and the reason they hold certain views would cause you to mediate on the differences.
Go to rallies that advocate for such differences – reproductive rights, gender identification, etc. By going to rallies, not as an opposition but to hear the struggles facing a set of demographics because of said differences you may see why opposition towards a difference is so irrational or quite dangerous.
Volunteer at advocacy centers. But be careful with this. Ask for permission to volunteer. But only if you will not harm anyone with differing views. Never harm people for having different views.
Try to place yourself in their shoes. This may be difficult for you, but the easiest way you can try to achieve this is to draw up a scenario where you are just like them. Or if it’s a difference that usually results in abuse or constant assault such as from homosexuality or transgenderism, attempt to remember a time where you were insulted or abused – physically or verbally – for doing something wrong that was out of your hands. How did you feel? Was it enjoyable? Probably not. Now imagine being treated like that for being born different or holding a different view constantly.
Differences are sometimes hard to grasp but only because we have not been exposed enough to them. The aforementioned steps can help alleviate your opposition to differences held by your against your peers. Don’t expect to change your views immediately but give yourself props for attempting to understand others. That’s the best part of embracing the difference of others; the effort you put in.