Accepting Other Peoples Differences

We are all the products of our own individual upbringing and experiences so it is completely natural that we will all have differences in opinions on a wide range of issues.

The world would be a very dull place if we were all the same and it’s the incredible diversity amongst people throughout the world that makes it such a fascinating place.

 diversity

The World is Getting Smaller

Cheaper air travel and the internet has made the world seem a much smaller place and we are increasingly brought into contact with people from many different ethnicities religious backgrounds, languages, cultures and belief systems. You can see this every day on TV, on the news, in newspapers, out and about in society etc. To feel comfortable about people whom we encounter means that we must feel comfortable about ourselves and this means accepting ourselves for what we are.

 Prejudices

Unfortunately, many people put up barriers to protect themselves instead of opening themselves up to others. This, in turn, leads to a mistrust of others regardless of colour, religion, gender or any other stereotypical excuse given as to why we fear others and, on a global scale, this is often borne out in the wars that we see around the world and in an increase in terrorist activities. We all know that these kinds of responses only really fuel further mistrust yet, even in our own immediate environments such as the workplace or even in our local pub, we all tend to congregate in our little groups without giving much thought to others around us.

Benefits of Being Open to Others

When we get to learn about others and respect our similarities and our differences, we get to learn so much more about the world and about ourselves and this helps us to grow spiritually, instead of stagnating. It also opens the doors to many other opportunities, be they friendships, work prospects, travel possibilities or a wider understanding of the world in which we live.

How to Become More Tolerant and Accept Others Openly

Many people who are fearful of others are not so because they have any sense of resentment towards them but because they’re not sure how to go about communicating with them and also because they fear that their own little ‘cocoon of protection’ might be threatened. In other words, they make the mistake of believing that others’ viewpoints and opinions might open them up to the risk that their own opinions may be deemed worthless. This is simply not true. What is important is that everybody is entitled to a viewpoint or opinion and we should respect that right even if we don’t necessarily agree with it.

Tolerance is the key but you can still maintain your own identity and still have valid viewpoints. Remember, even identical twins have their own individual experiences and opinions and you probably don’t agree with everything your parents or children say but does that necessarily compromise you?

There are many things we can do to move towards accepting other people’s opinions and respecting our differences. At a very basic level, we should treat others with the same degree of respect as we would like to be treated ourselves. We should embrace our differences, not be afraid of them and we should never judge a person on our first impression which is often about how he or she looks. Taking the time to get to know the person within is a far better indicator than pre-judging them on appearances alone.

Getting to truly know a new person who we may feel is quite different to us can be a very rewarding experience. It’s true that when we’re looking to make friends or start relationships that we tend to gravitate towards people we believe are similar in outlook to ourselves but in restricting ourselves to that mindset, we can often miss out on many interesting experiences.

Be Prepared to Listen

Communication isn’t simply about talking. In fact, some of the best communicators on the world stage tend to be less ‘vocal’ than we might think they’d need to be to be effective communicators. Take Kofi Annan at the UN for instance. He holds one of the world’s most powerful positions when it comes to mediating between powerful people from different countries often with major differences in opinion but he’s good at what he does as he’s a good listener and, in effective communication, it’s listening that’s often the key.

 Take time to listen to other’s opinions and acknowledge them and also be confident to express your own. Listening to other’s opinions doesn’t mean you have to deviate from your own firmly held viewpoint, although a diverse opinion to your own can sometimes make you think about things in a different light. This is all part of a maturing of the mind. It’s not about convincing others that you are right or about them convincing you that they’re right but simply a matter of being understood and an acceptance that you might agree to disagree.

If people become more tolerant towards others and take time to get to know some of those with whom they were unfamiliar with previously, it would lead to a far more peaceful and understanding world and, ultimately when considering your own self-growth, an acceptance of other people’s differences is a sure-fire way of gaining a more complete acceptance of yourself.

Understanding My Son’s Learning Styles

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Vincent ( far right ) engaging with a ‘tactile’ learning style during a class activity.

For several years, Vincent’s teachers have sought our attention because apparently he is having a hard time focusing in school, sometimes not participating in class, and always needing to do something with his hands. Because of these concerns, we have sat down and had talk with him a million times regarding these issues at school. We were getting frustrated! It’s always dreadful every time we receive an email from his teacher saying the same things.

At one point, we considered home schooling him so we don’t get this kind of pressure from the school. We have to admit, and to our shame, there were times Moses and I yelled at him and took away some of his privileges at home. I compared him to other kids and to my own study habits when I was in grade school.   We were aware that it isn’t fair to him to be treated that way. It was very challenging and frustrating that we lose our patience.

We also enrolled him to Kumon hoping it’ll help him develop concentration and better study habits. Although we help and support him doing his homework at home, we make sure that he takes responsibility as well. We know that Vincent is a very smart, clever and witty boy. But some teachers have suggested have him checked, maybe he has ADHD. Though we were in denial for long time, we are now considering seeing a specialist.

What’s interesting is, every time we get his report card, he excels basing on California Standard Test although his learning behavior is below average. We also get different opinions from our friends and family as well so it can be very confusing sometimes.

Our minister in our church also helped us understand that we, his parents should be his number one fan when it comes to learning. If he feels unloved and ‘not accepted’ because of his inability to concentrate, he will develop low self-esteem and more insecurity in life. I’ve been reading a lot about this topic and it’s overwhelming.

I bumped into an article written by Denise Mann of WebMD site. It is very enlightening and for the first time I felt there are ways how to help my son succeed in learning.

According to Denise Mann, you shouldn’t panic if your son has trouble spelling or your daughter can’t sit still during history class. It may be that he or she simply has a different learning style. She emphasized that every child learns in a slightly different way, experts say, and figuring out your child’s own learning style can help assure academic success.

In some cases, it may even help do away with labels, like “attention deficit disorder (ADD)” and “learning disabled (LD).” So she recommends a step-by-step guide to identifying, understanding, and making the most of your child’s learning style.

Identifying Your Child’s Strengths  

Parents need to keep their eyes and ears open to figure out what works best for their children when it comes to learning, says Mel Levine, MD, co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit institute for the study of learning differences. “Some children are hands-on, while others work best through language and do well with reading,” says Levine, a pediatrics professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School. “Some children understand things better than they remember them.

”There are many different patterns of learning, and the best thing that a parent can do is step back and observe what seems to be happening and what seems to be working with their child.”

Levine suggests that parents begin evaluating their child’s learning style at age 6 or 7. Learning styles really start to crystallize during the middle school years.

Understanding your child’s disposition can also help you determine his or her learning style, says Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, MS, a learning coach based in Ventura, Calif., and author of Discover Your Child’s Learning Style. For example, is your child adventurous? Inventing? Or thinking/creating like a poet or a philosopher? “An adventurous personality really has to move to learn, so sitting at desk all day doesn’t do it for them,” she says.

By contrast, “a child with an inventing disposition asks a million questions, such as ‘How does this work?’ ‘What about this?’” Another factor to observe is your child’s “learning modality”, she says. This refers to which senses your child best learns through. Are they auditory (listening and verbal), visual (picture or print), or tactile-kinesthetics (hands-on, whole-body, sketching or writing)? “Some people are more visual and need pictures to learn, while print learners need print,” she explains.

Another aspect of learning style involves the environment, she says. For example, noise, temperature or lighting may affect some children’s ability to learn. “For one child, temperature might not make a difference, but some children can’t concentrate if it’s too hot, and/or lighting can be a crucial factor for some people if fluorescent lighting causes eyestrain,” she says.

Playing to Your Child’s Strengths

Once you have identified your child’s learning style, you can begin to build on his or her strengths to compensate for learning weaknesses — without labels. “If a little girl has a lot of spatial problems (difficulty picturing things), but is terrific in English, she can learn math by putting everything into her own words,” Levine explains. “If you show her an equilateral triangle and ask her to talk about it, boy, will she understand it. “She can only understand things in words, which is why she is such a terrific English student.”

Another way to enhance learning is to focus on your child’s affinities and areas of interest. “A lot of strength could ride on the coattails of their passions, and you can build academic skills in that area,” Levine says. “Have him became an expert in the area that he feels passionate about.” Pelullo-Willis agrees.

“Parents really should encourage children’s interests, talents and what they love to do,” she says. “Parents tend to say ‘If you are not doing well in school, you can’t take horseback riding lessons,’ but those are things that can build self-esteem.

Further, she says, “acknowledging and honoring their interests and talents tells you a lot about their learning style. If your child is really interested in plants and gardening, you can see if they are more hands-on and they need to go out there and garden. Or do they learn better from pictures about gardening, or reading about gardening?”

Increasing Awareness in Schools  

As it stands, schools mainly teach to print, auditory and language learners, according to Pelullo-Willis. “They teach by saying ‘Read, answer the questions and listen to me talk’ and that only covers a small percentage of children,” she says. If your child is a hands-on learner, “You can say: ‘Of course school is so hard for you; you need to move a lot and they don’t do that in school,’” she says. “Then learn everything you can about how to use their learning style to make school easier.” Adds Levine: “We are learning more and more that there are differences in learning, and to treat everyone the same is to treat them unequally.”

The good news is that growing numbers of teachers are focusing on learning styles and reaching out to all types of learners. For example, Levine helped launch the Schools Attuned program. This professional development program helps teachers acquire the knowledge and skills they need to accommodate learning differences.

To date, the program has offered training to 30,000 teachers. But if your child’s teacher has not been trained in learning styles, don’t despair, Pelullo-Willis says. Instead, talk to him or her about what you have observed about your child’s learning style. “Say, ‘Wow, I have just discovered this and I tried it, and he got it. Do you think we could work together using this kind of information?’ And the teacher may even get interested in reading a book or article on learning style,” she says.

Now I have more in depth understanding of my son’s learning style. Vincent responds very well with visuals (picture or print), or tactile-kinesthetics (hands-on or whole-body participation. He has an adventurous personality and he really has to move to learn, so Levine is right, sitting at desk all day doesn’t do it for him.

Because I’m now empowered to support him in his study habits, I feel more relaxed and calm. I now have full acceptance that my son is different from the rest of his class. I am my son’s advocate and I will focus helping him with his strengths. Vincent’s success in learning is not defined by the school but through his parents who believes in him.

How to Deal with Traumatic Experiences

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 When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with the right treatment, self-help strategies, and support, you can speed your recovery. Whether the traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on.

What is emotional and psychological trauma?

Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world.

Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

Causes of emotional or psychological trauma

An event will most likely lead to emotional or psychological trauma if:

  • It happened unexpectedly.
  • You were unprepared for it.
  • You felt powerless to prevent it.
  • It happened repeatedly.
  • Someone was intentionally cruel.
  • It happened in childhood.

Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by single-blow, one-time events, such as a horrible accident, a natural disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can also stem from ongoing, relentless stress, such as living in a crime-ridden neighborhood or struggling with cancer.

Commonly overlooked causes of emotional and psychological trauma

  • Falls or sports injuries
  • Surgery (especially in the first 3 years of life)
  • The sudden death of someone close
  • A car accident
  • The breakup of a significant relationship
  • A humiliating or deeply disappointing experience
  • The discovery of a life-threatening illness or disabling condition

Risk factors that increase your vulnerability to trauma

Not all potentially traumatic events lead to lasting emotional and psychological damage. Some people rebound quickly from even the most tragic and shocking experiences. Others are devastated by experiences that, on the surface, appear to be less upsetting.

A number of risk factors make people susceptible to emotional and psychological trauma. People are more likely to be traumatized by a stressful experience if they’re already under a heavy stress load or have recently suffered a series of losses.

People are also more likely to be traumatized by a new situation if they’ve been traumatized before – especially if the earlier trauma occurred in childhood.

Childhood trauma increases the risk of future trauma

Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. Children who have been traumatized see the world as a frightening and dangerous place. When childhood trauma is not resolved, this fundamental sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for further trauma.

Childhood trauma results from anything that disrupts a child’s sense of safety and security, including:

  • An unstable or unsafe environment
  • Separation from a parent
  • Serious illness
  • Intrusive medical procedures

Symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma

Following a traumatic event, or repeated trauma, people react in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond to trauma, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events.

Emotional and psychological symptoms of trauma:

  • Shock, denial, or disbelief
  • Anger, irritability, mood swings
  • Guilt, shame, self-blame
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Feeling disconnected or numb

Physical symptoms of trauma:

  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Being startled easily
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Edginess and agitation
  • Muscle tension

These symptoms and feelings typically last from a few days to a few months, gradually fading as you process the trauma. But even when you’re feeling better, you may be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions—especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or an image, sound, or situation that reminds you of the traumatic experience.

Grieving is normal following trauma

Whether or not a traumatic event involves death, survivors must cope with the loss, at least temporarily, of their sense of safety and security. The natural reaction to this loss is grief. Like people who have lost a loved one, trauma survivors go through a grieving process. This process, while inherently painful, is easier if you turn to others for support, take care of yourself, and talk about how you feel.

When to seek professional help for emotional or psychological trauma

Recovering from a traumatic event takes time, and everyone heals at his or her own pace. But if months have passed and your symptoms aren’t letting up, you may need professional help from a trauma expert.

Seek help for emotional or psychological trauma if you’re:

  • Having trouble functioning at home or work
  • Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression
  • Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
  • Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks
  • Avoiding more and more things that remind you of the trauma
  • Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
  • Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

Finding a trauma specialist

Working through trauma can be scary, painful, and potentially retraumatizing. Because of the risk of retraumatization, this healing work is best done with the help of an experienced trauma specialist.

Finding the right therapist may take some time. It’s very important that the therapist you choose has experience treating trauma. But the quality of the relationship with your therapist is equally important. Choose a trauma specialist you feel comfortable with. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, respected, or understood, find another therapist. There should be a sense of trust and warmth between you and your trauma therapist.

After meeting a potential trauma therapist, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did you feel comfortable discussing your problems with the therapist?
  • Did you feel like the therapist understood what you were talking about?
  • Were your concerns taken seriously or were they minimized or dismissed?
  • Were you treated with compassion and respect?
  • Do you believe that you could grow to trust the therapist?

Treatment for psychological and emotional trauma

In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, you must face and resolve the unbearable feelings and memories you’ve long avoided. Otherwise they will return again and again, unbidden and uncontrollable.

Trauma treatment and healing involves:

  • Processing trauma-related memories and feelings
  • Discharging pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy
  • Learning how to regulate strong emotions
  • Building or rebuilding the ability to trust other people

Trauma therapy treatment approaches

Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets stuck in overdrive. Successful trauma treatment must address this imbalance and reestablish your physical sense of safety. The following therapies are commonly used in the treatment of emotional and psychological trauma:

  • Somatic experiencing takes advantage of the body’s unique ability to heal itself. The focus of therapy is on bodily sensations, rather than thoughts and memories about the traumatic event. By concentrating on what’s happening in your body, you gradually get in touch with trauma-related energy and tension. From there, your natural survival instincts take over, safely releasing this pent-up energy through shaking, crying, and other forms of physical release.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. These back-and-forth eye movements are thought to work by “unfreezing” traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma. While cognitive-behavioral therapy doesn’t treat the physiological effects of trauma, it can be helpful when used in addition to a body-based therapy such as somatic experiencing or EMDR.

Emotional and psychological trauma recovery tips

Recovering from emotional and psychological trauma takes time. Give yourself time to heal and to mourn the losses you’ve experienced. Don’t try to force the healing process. Be patient with the pace of recovery. Finally, be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt.

Trauma self-help strategy 1: Don’t isolate

  • Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone.
  • Ask for support. It’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or clergyman.
  • Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect.
  • Join a support group for trauma survivors. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and hearing how others cope can help inspire you.
  • Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma. Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by comforting or helping others.

Trauma self-help strategy 2: Stay grounded

In order to stay grounded after a trauma, it helps to have a structured schedule to follow.

  • Stick to a daily routine, with regular times for waking, sleeping, eating, working, and exercise. Make sure to schedule time for relaxing and social activities, too.
  • Break large jobs into smaller, manageable tasks. Take pleasure from the accomplishment of achieving something, even it’s a small thing.
  • Find activities that make you feel better and keep your mind occupied (reading, taking a class, cooking, playing with your kids or pets), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to focusing on the traumatic experience.
  • Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. Accepting your feelings is part of the grieving process and is necessary for healing.

Staying grounded: A trauma self-help exercise

If you are feeling disoriented, confused, or upset, you can do the following exercise:

  • Sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground. Press on your thighs. Feel your behind on the seat and your back against the chair.
  • Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue. This should allow you to feel in the present, more grounded, and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer.
  • You may want to go outdoors and find a peaceful place to sit on the grass. As you do, feel how your body can be held and supported by the ground.

Trauma self-help strategy 3: Take care of your health

A healthy body increases your ability to cope with stress from a trauma.

  • Get plenty of sleep. After a traumatic experience, worry or fear may disturb your sleep patterns. A lack of sleep can make your trauma symptoms worse and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs as their use can worsen your trauma symptoms and exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. It also boosts self-esteem and helps to improve sleep. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats—such as salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds—can give your mood a boost.
  • Reduce stress. Making time for rest and relaxation will help you bring your life back into balance. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Schedule time for activities that bring you joy—favorite hobbies or activities with friends, for example.

Helping someone deal with emotional and psychological trauma

It can be difficult to know how to help a loved one who’s suffered a traumatic or distressing experience, but your support can be a crucial factor in their recovery.

  • Be patient and understanding. Healing from emotional or psychological trauma takes time. Be patient with the pace of recovery and remember that everyone’s response to trauma is different.  Don’t judge your loved one’s reaction against your own response or anyone else’s.
  • Offer practical support to help your loved one get back into a normal routine. That may mean help with collecting groceries or housework, for example, or simply being available to talk or listen.
  • Don’t pressure your loved one into talking but be available when they want to talk. Some trauma survivors find it difficult to talk about what happened. Don’t force your loved one to open up but let them know you are there to listen whenever they feel ready.
  • Help your loved one to socialize and relax. Encourage them to participate in physical exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies and other activities that bring them pleasure. Take a fitness class together or set a regular lunch date with friends.
  • Don’t take the trauma symptoms personally. Your loved one may become angry, irritable, withdrawn, or emotionally distant. Remember that this is a result of the trauma and may not have anything to do with you or your relationship.

Helping a child recover from trauma

It’s important to communicate openly with children following trauma. Let them know that it’s normal to feel scared or upset. Your child may also look to you for cues on how they should respond to traumatic events so let him or her see you dealing with symptoms of trauma in a positive way.

How children react to emotional and psychological trauma

Some common reactions to trauma and ways to help your child deal with them:

  • Regression. Many children may try to return to an earlier stage when they felt safer and more cared for. Younger children may wet the bed or want a bottle; older children may fear being alone. It’s important to be patient and comforting if your child responds this way.
  • Thinking the event is their fault. Children younger than seven or eight tend to think that if something goes wrong, it must be their fault—no matter how irrational this may sound to an adult. Be sure your child understands that he did not cause the event.
  • Sleep disorders. Some children have difficulty falling to sleep; others wake frequently or have troubling dreams. If you can, give your child a stuffed animal, soft blanket, or flashlight to take to bed. Try spending extra time together in the evening, doing quiet activities or reading. Be patient. It may take a while before your child can sleep through the night again.
  • Feeling helpless. Being active in a campaign to prevent an event like this one from happening again, writing thank you letters to people who have helped, and caring for others can bring a sense of hope and control to everyone in the family.

Source: Sidran Institute

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