SALT LAKE CITY — In this edition of LIFEadvice, coaches Kim and Nicole share some suggestions for people struggling with judgment and disapproval from others.
We moved to Utah from out of state and we are good, Christian people with high standards and values, and like most people outside of Utah, we drink coffee and wine. My children have good manners and are kind, sweet kids, but they are cast as bad in our neighborhood because we are of a different religion, and are not allowed to play with other kids. I am not sure how to handle it. I am shocked that religious people would be so unkind. Do you have any suggestions?
First, we would like to say we are so sorry this kind of thing is happening. Please know there are many people who would never treat you and your family this way and are saddened to know this has been your experience.
As for some advice, you have two options in this situation. You can be angry, bitter, resentful and unkind back, or you can take the high road and demonstrate your beliefs better than they have theirs. Our advice would be to take the high road and treat them with kindness and love anyway. Do this, not because they deserve it, but because it’s the kind of person you want to be.
You might consider killing them with kindness, instead of being unkind back. Take them cookies, shovel their snow or find other ways to demonstrate what love looks like.
Let your children know these people might be afraid. They could have a fear problem around certain words or actions that make them feel unsafe. If we see their behavior as scared, instead of judgmental and unkind, it’s easier to have compassion for them. They are doing the best they can with what they currently know and see, though ignorance isn’t innocence.
Suggestion for righteous people everywhere
We would also like to offer some suggestions to people who find themselves feeling uncomfortable with people who are different from them.
We all have subconscious biases in play, but we believe that doesn’t excuse unloving behavior. It is always your responsibility to identify your discomfort around certain things or people, and force yourself out of your comfort zone. This is the only way to grow and learn to accept and embrace people who are different.
We believe this one lesson — loving people who are different from you — is the primary lesson we are on the planet to learn and it is why the universe is filled with diversity. Diversity gives you an opportunity to see “the limits of your love” as they show you the boundaries of your comfort zone and challenge you to learn to love bigger.
We also recommend asking yourself, what does being a righteous person mean to you?
The dictionary defines righteousness as: being morally right or virtuous.
This is definitely a noble pursuit, but that is about one’s own choices and behavior. You get to decide what your values are and what behavior you deem right, but it does not include putting those same values on others. As soon as you do that, you have moved from righteous to self-righteous.
The dictionary defines self-righteous as: believing one is totally correct or morally superior to others.
We believe this is where it all goes wrong. When you believe you are morally superior to another person, you are choosing to see yourself as having more value, and this is a problem.
“The individuals in our sample consistently judged themselves to be superior to the average person,” Ben Tappin, a psychologist at the University of London and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post.
If you want to raise confident, loving, wise children, who grow into mature, kind adults, then teach them to see all human beings as having the same value, no matter the difference in their journeys, language or behavior.
Most of all, parents should teach their children to accept and be kind to everyone — and the only way to teach this is by example. Don’t underestimate the power of a sincere apology. It’s not too late.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles and Nicole Cunningham are the human behavior experts behind www.12.shapes.com. They host a weekly Relationship Radio show on