I sent a text to the wrong person today. I had a question about my Thanksgiving menu. Shall laughed and thanked me for thinking of her as family.
After watching the 60 Minutes’ story about the studies done at Yale’s Baby Lab, my girlfriend’s response got me thinking. The study showed the innate human tendency to prefer others who are similar to us. It was astonishing to see little babies choose puppets that they knew liked the same things they did, and discard the ones that were different, even when they are treated badly. No one wants to admit it, but by nature we do that at all ages. We are drawn to people who are like us and we tend to be emotionally detached from those who are different.
I’ve been hurt many times in my life by people who saw me as different than them. I’m sure you have too. I hate to think it’s true, but I know I have hurt others for the same reason. Parties can be a great catalyst for this pain, can’t they? Let’s take the Thanksgiving feast for an example.
The majority of our country is following tradition and getting together with those they love to enjoy this year’s bounty of blessings. I am thrilled to host my family’s 2012 celebration. It is especially sweet because for a while it looked as though it wouldn’t even be all of our immediate family together, and now there will be a whole gaggle of us gathered around a 24lb turkey.
When I thought we would be half a family, I found myself discouraged about the change, and challenged with the question of who to invite to join us. (Having come from a close family of great numbers, the option of inviting friends was never available to me before. There are only so many people who can fit in one home.) My closest friends had plans, and honestly, I felt like the Yale babies… in the vulnerable state of loneliness I just wanted people “like me” around the table on this family day.
I’m so glad that things worked out and my kids will get their “cousin time” but my girlfriend’s text really put it all in proper perspective.
We have set aside this Thursday to be thankful; let’s be careful when our traditions are altered, and our plans disappoint us, that we don’t become dissatisfied.
There are some amazing people all around us, like my friend, that are similar to us, and maybe they, too, would love to be thought of as family. Who says we have to celebrate the same way, with the same people, every year? It may be hard for a baby, but I want to overcome my innate desires and learn to love those who aren’t so similar to me with the same kind of love as I do family. How about you?
Catrina Welch is an image- and life-coach whose message is not as much “what not to wear” as it is, “Know Who You Are,” which is the title of her book of guidelines for your personal image identity. Catrina has also written a Bible study to help women overcome their image issues. It is titled Supreme MakeOver: a Rich and Refreshing Devotional Experience. Her other books include Footprints Through the Sand: a Consolidation of Life-altering stories about Loving and Loosing a Trisomy-18 Baby and Confident Beauty: Reflecting the One Who Made You with the Images in Your Mirror and Your Soul, which will be available soon.