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Practicing Tolerance:What Do You Do With a Bruised Apple?

by Michele Novotni, Ph.D.

If you or someone you know is looking for the "perfect" friend, or the "perfect" co-worker, the perfect boss, or even the perfect spouse, I can help. Yes. I can help in the search for the one who will always be there, never hurt your feelings, and always do what you want or whatever your view of perfect is.

You can stop looking!

I hate to break this to you, but people are not perfect.

It never ceases to amaze me that folks who tend to be, perhaps, how shall we say this in a socially appropriate way "a little rough around the edges" are often among the very first to find fault or reasons to reject others. It might be that they find someone too talkative, too quiet, too fat, too thin, too smart, not too smart, or even have the wrong color skin or accent. And yet, these are often the same, yes the very same folks who are often upset by the rejection or lack of inclusion by others.

This tendency is illustrated by one of my hyperactive clients, who could at times be quite annoying. He was refusing to associate with someone who wanted to be his friend because he thought THEY were annoying. At the same time, he was depressed because of the lack of relationships in his life. He was shutting out people who wanted to be with him while he sought to be included with others who had chosen to exclude him.

It seems that folks often have in their mind the person or group they see themselves as fitting in with. Unfortunately, they may not always fit the ideals of that group. However, there may be another group or person who is seeking to befriend them. Here is where the concepts of inclusion and tolerance come in.

If an apple has a bruise, some may throw the entire apple away. What a waste! Others will cut away the bruise and enjoy the rest of the apple. What if we all adopted a view of others that looked for reasons to include, rather than reasons to exclude?

This attitude begins with your view of self. Perhaps you look in the mirror and only see what you are not. It is likely that you will also look at others and only see what they are not.

Ask yourself different questions. What ARE you? What ARE they? How can they enrich your life?

Tolerance also begins with language. Rather than using evaluative/judgmental words like good/bad, right/wrong learn to use words like different or unique.

Develop your sense of adventure. Without diversity, life would be dull, boring and very predictable. It is exactly the differences that others bring to our life, that enrich us.

Hold on to what is good about you. Hold on to what is good about those you meet. And enjoy the freedom and enjoyment that comes with practicing open mindedness and tolerance each and every day. And hopefully others will meet you with the same open mindedness and tolerance.

Michele Novotni, Ph.D., is a psychologist, coach, author, and international speaker specializing in AD/HD. She is past-president of the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), and is in private practice in Pennsylvania.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine 2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.

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