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  • Writer's pictureKaren Khan

Are we really that different-or just unequal?

Updated: Apr 10, 2023



One of the first concepts I discuss with clients is usually ‘Attention’. How the giving and receiving of attention is vital to true human connection and indeed communication.

I may be about to have a rethink on this however and cover the concept of ‘Acceptance’ before we move onto anything else.

Acceptance for behaviours, speech, actions and the whole mixed bag of what it takes to be a human being undoubtedly can only be taken so far. No-one should tolerate abuse of any kind obviously.

But Acceptance of others as our equals (however different they may be) applies to all relationships I believe.

In many cultures adult children are expected to ‘serve’ their parents and to ultimately aim to fulfil their wishes above all else. In other cultures parents of adult children seem to be barely tolerated as an annoyance, a judgemental presence that invokes anxiety, traumatic childhood memories and hurt. Can we see ourselves as different yet equal to our parents? That can be difficult.

I feel the same is often true of children. Our little ones are clearly different to adults (and that can come as a shock during the ‘terrible twos’). Nothing prepares a person for the absolute mayhem that a toddler can wreak on a household when teething or tantrum throwing. But are they equal to us? Are our needs and wishes now secondary to these ‘little Emperors’ as the Chinese refer to them.

Family dynamics are something I am often talking about with clients. So often clients are sandwiched between trying to please parents, in-laws and also trying to be the best parents themselves. No wonder people come to me and say “I don’t know who I am anymore” or more commonly “we don’t know if we love each other anymore”.

Can you see where I’m going with this? Equality, for oneself and each other is key here. If one of you stays home to be the main child carer and one of you is out at work being the breadwinner then that means, quite simply that you have different roles, but not unequal ones.

If one of you is untidy (by nature) and one of you is an obsessive declutterer then different -yes, but not unequal.

If one of you has a very different background or personality that involves a greater need for affection and attention and the other has a very real need for space, then there will be a difference in how you will communicate -but it’s not an inequality per se.

This is essentially how I begin to help couples. I explore the gap in between the perceived differences and possible thoughts of inequality. Developing a greater level of emotional IQ can only be done if we step outside of our own viewpoint and walk in the others shoes. We learn most we open our hearts and minds to these very discrepancies.

If we truly believe that we are as deserving of happiness as our partner, parents, children and whoever we bump into on the street then we are half way there.

If however, we start to believe that our loved ones, parents, friends or indeed anyone are less deserving or less/more equal to us -then this is the road to frustration, disappointment and ultimately emotional poverty I think.

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