to Out on a Limb,
a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine
is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
Different Does Not Equal Wrong
As I reflect on June of 2015, I notice a thread that ran through both personal and beyond-personal conversations or events. That thread stirs a familiar lament: what is so difficult about tolerating differences? Here is a sampling of how this theme got very loud in just one month of just one year:
A spouse rants about her wifeís excessive need for time alone; this is how the wife re-charges her battery. The spouse tries desperately to get me to agree with her that the wife is wrong, and she is right. (I didnít.)
A son complains about his fatherís method of planning a vacation. He is not really an itinerary-builder so he criticizes Dadís almost-obsessive need to nail down all details of a trip.
Just a few days after the Supreme Court of the United Statesí landmark decision that made marriage, regardless of sexual orientation, legal, some pretty hateful posts appear on Facebook.
One co-worker rejects another because they have opposite views about how best to respond to a traumatic event.
Just writing out this partial list evokes a fatigue that goes deep. Do you feel the tension, too? Why must we get so polarized when challenged to accept that someone is different from us? Previous Out on a Limb newsletters have looked at Cultivating Tolerance, and how to Grey Your Black-and-White Thinking. Still, I am in search of solutions as this issue feels so utterly intertwined with bringing joy back to our lives. Joy will elude us if we are so busy making that other person (or organization) wrong for their different style, personality, preference, choice, trait, or belief. Perhaps we are called to adopt a stance of neutrality but even as I type out that word, I can hear my opponents say something like, ďNeutrality? How boring. Thatís just a cop-out!Ē I know some people who just love a debate no matter what the topic! I cast my vote for neutrality. Might it not bring more joy to be less attached to whether someone or something is right or wrong? That popular phrase, ďIt is what it is,Ē could be a helpful mantra. Neutrality might mean less drama, but more peace. I know neutrality will not work in all situations (such as those where human rights are violated) but perhaps it is a move in the right direction.
A Lesson from Typologies
I can think of at least three different systems used to explain the differences in personality types: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the nine Enneagram Types, and the Five Elements theory of associated with Chinese medicine. Investigate any of these typologies and you will find neutrality! For example, the Chinese medicine practitioner will not say that a Wood type is awful or bad, and an Earth type is perfect. A competent Enneagram specialist will present all 9 types as having strengths and weaknesses. There is no hierarchy dictating which type is right versus wrong, good vs. bad, better vs. worse. Neutrality!
Polarities and Neutrality
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator may illuminate polarities between two people. You get a score with four of eight possible letters in it. For example, you are either an E (extravert) or an I (introvert), an S (sensing) or an N (intuitive), etc. In the first item of my list above, the spouse is probably an extravert; her wife is an introvert but neither is wrong! They just re-charge their battery in opposite ways. To summon neutrality, the E is asked not to judge the I but rather to appreciate the different-ness. As with brown eyes vs. blue or vanilla vs. chocolate ice cream, we are entitled to our preferences. If someone prefers something different? It just is what it is.
Your July 2015 Prompts for Joy
Click here for an amusing look at the differences between menís and womenís brains.
(Thank you, Setareh Moafi!)
Click here to be reminded that what is unique or different about each of us is what makes us special.
(Thanks so much, Danielle Potheau!)
All previous Prompts for Joy (PFJs) can be found at my website, unless the video url is no longer functional.
Joy-Gram for July 2015
Try neutrality on for size. This suggestion sounds easy but may be difficult to execute!
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT · 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 ·