By Beth Keil
We all have the need to belong, to fit in. How far we’ll go can differ from person to person and situation to situation. Being the “other” is something we’ve all experienced —whether based on our gender, race, likes or dislikes, and even our sexuality. When we’re young we don’t always realize kids around us may feel just like we do leading us to feel alone and isolated. This awareness came to the fore at the 40th elementary school reunion I attended in September. This gathering gave each of us the opportunity to check out assumptions we had made about one another so early in our lives leading us to realize we all had felt insecure.
Not everyone gets this opportunity.
Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who took his life in September, didn’t nor did the other teenagers who took their life because they were gay or were perceived as being gay. They didn’t get to live long enough to be able to look back.
I’m not asking you, the reader, about your opinion about homosexuality. It isn’t the issue. What is the issue is how each of us contributes to another person feeling or thinking they don’t belong, that they’re an outsider. As I said, each of us has the experience of feeling different. So why would any of us do this to another person knowing the hurt and pain it could create? And why wouldn’t we stop another person from doing the same if we saw it happening?
Many years ago, when my eldest was a toddler, a friend would watch him when I went work. She herself had a child who was a few years older than mine. She was great with my son and I knew he was in safe hands. Then one day when I was picking him up to take him home, I heard her child say “that’s yucky” as he pointed to the Troll doll my son had brought with him. I realized later on the Troll, this mythical being, didn’t fit into their religious beliefs. It was THE OTHER. My friend was teaching her child THE OTHER was “yucky” so he’d be less inclined to play with it. I understood the technique. As parents we do something similar when a young child puts something in their mouth that could harm them, like poison. The problem here was labeling “THE OTHER” as YUCKY=BAD becomes an imprint, something that will be used as a future filtering mechanism to sort out information or situations even if that isn’t a parent’s intention. Intended or not, this can plant the seed for seeing others as bad when we don’t agree with them, their politics, their preferences, or their beliefs.
Hypnosis refers to this filtering mechanism as the Critical Factor or Function (CF). It allows us to compare incoming information with our previous experience and history. That which is similar will be easily accepted into the Subconscious Mind; something seen as dissimilar will be rejected while information we’re not really sure about is put to the side—-not fully integrated nor rejected. When we’re young we use our parent’s CF. Somewhere around the ages of 12- 16 we begin to use our own which is still influenced by what we learned earlier from our parents giving meaning to the saying, “Hate is a Family Value”.
What did you learn is “yucky”? It could be a food, activity, line of work, and even your perception about money and those who have it and those who don’t. We all have something. What are yours? How do you think about a person who doesn’t share your belief? How do you think about THE OTHER? I don’t think recognizing there are THE OTHERS in the world is the issue; instead, it’s what we do to them.
What family values are you passing on?