Tag Archives: differences

Conquering Fear in a Relationship – So, How’s that Working for You?

By Alice Laby

How do we conquer our fears?  First, we need to identify what we are afraid of.  Be very honest with yourself – it may help to make a list.  I am afraid of anger and rejection when I communicate my needs to my partner.  In my previous long term relationship that was the response I received when I made my love and belonging needs known.

There should be input from both you and your partner about what your needs are.  Does he or she have a high freedom need?  Is your loved one’s biorhythm different than yours? Listen,  communicate your respect, and be supportive of your loved one’s choices.

It helps if you write about your fears in a journal before you express them verbally.  If you have started to conquer your fears, write about it in your journal as well.

Celebrate your differences!  Adding a dose of humor is a very good way to open the discussion about the contrast between you and your partner.  I like a folk music song by the trio Gathering Time called The Highest Walls Guard the Greatest Treasures.  Do you build walls to keep yourself protected?  Does your partner?

Can we all get along?

By Dr. Ken Larsen (Originally posted 2/24/14)

Dr. Glasser has pointed out the disparity between our technological progress as a society and our ability to establish and maintain healthy relationships with one another.  Our technological prowess has soared over the past couple of centuries, yet, Rodney King’s simple plea, “Can we all get along?”  stands with Dr. Glasser’s comment from his book “Choice Theory” that “…we are no more able to get along well with each other than we ever were.” 

There is more than one reason for this inability to get along with one another.  I’m going to talk about just one that came to me in a fresh flood of insight recently.

It started with discovering a video clip on YouTube.  The clip was of a Swiss family who play and sing Swiss folk music.  Dad plays accordion, Mom does vocal, the two brothers play bass and guitar and daughter Yodels!  I was completely charmed by their performance and puzzled over why I found them so appealing.  I mean how many folks do you know that just DIG yodeling???  [Oesch die Dritten is the name of the group.  Check em out.]


After a couple of days enjoying their music and driving everyone else nuts with my new found enthusiasm for yodeling, I suddenly sat up in surprise.  I asked myself, “What is the most obvious characteristic of this group?  They are European!  Specifically Northern European, that part of the world where my ancestors lived.  I was connecting in a funny way with some of the traditions of my distant ancestry!  Then I sat back and reflected on this insight.  I found that I really valued what I see and know about my European heritage, especially, in this case, with the music.  My appreciation for my own racial history has nothing to do with thinking less of other traditions.  As a matter of fact, I find that learning about other cultures and ethnic groups is fascinating.  We are all interconnected and have a contribution to make to this organism we call humanity.

Then, in my eagerness to share this with my friends, I found that I wanted to simply share my enthusiasm but I also wanted to be sensitive to the fact that a lot of people I know, including my friends, are less than enthusiastic about yodeling.  So with some hesitation I simply told of the joy I felt with this music, leaving them free to listen or not to listen.

Have you ever had what some call an epiphany?  Where fresh insights just seem to pour out in your thoughts?  That was what I was experiencing.  The next clear idea that emerged was that while I wanted to respect the interests and tastes of others, I also wanted and even expected a certain respect from my friends for what I had experienced through this music.  They didn’t have to jump in and become fans of Swiss Folk Music, but I didn’t expect them to look at my interest disdainfully.

I think this experience gave me a fresh desire to be more reflective in my efforts to touch and appreciate our diverse differences in our American culture.  We have rich treasures from other continents and other peoples.  Most of us have ancestors that came here from someplace else.  As I appreciate my own roots, I want to support and respect all my fellow Americans as we embrace our heritage and as we find ways to continue to build our common culture in this land of opportunity.

We live in an age where diversity is a reality.  I would like to see us all approach one another, as diverse as we are, with respect, interest and healthy curiosity.  Hopefully, through this we will grow in understanding and perhaps even bond in friendship across our differences.

worldhands “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

John F. Kennedy

Affinity or Aversion?

by Dr. Ken Larsen

What determines our reaction to the people we encounter through life’s journey?

We are drawn to some, feel a comfortable affinity and enjoy being with them.

We are put off by some, feel an often unpleasant aversion, and avoid them when possible.

Through the centuries this affinity or aversion has often been driven by traditions and values inherited from those who went before us.  This poignant song from South Pacific says it well:

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I believe we have come to the place in human history where we are challenged to step back and examine our traditions and values, especially when we discover them as a barrier to healthy connections with others who may be different.

Unwarranted hostility, fear, and suspicion are all barriers to happiness and mental health.  I believe we all, as individuals and as cultures, need to step back from what we have been taught about one another and examine those things that divide.  At one time, these aversions may have had some meaning or purpose.  We are at a place and time in our development as a species where we need to ask ourselves if these barriers still have meaning in today’s world.  More and more we are realizing our need for connections with one another, and to enjoy the satisfaction we gain from warm affinity with one another.  In order to achieve these connections I believe we need to be alert to examine, understand and discard the barriers that keep us at odds with one another.


Our common bond as human beings is emerging as an overriding unifying reality that has the potential to make a difference from the hate and fear that we have been carefully taught.

One might challenge me with the question, “This all sounds good, but what are you doing about it?”

Happily I would smile and talk about the upcoming dialogue I’ve scheduled with a lovely Malaysian lady, Johana Johari.  Johana is a therapist in her country with a faith tradition different from mine.  I am looking forward to just exchanging ideas and experiences and learning how life is in the different cultures we inhabit.  I’ll publish the video if I feel it makes a contribution to our collective education.

I would leave you the reader with the challenge to look at those situations where you experience interpersonal aversions and then ask yourself if the basis of those aversions is something you want to hold on to, or discard.  Dialogue is helpful in this process because it gives us the opportunity to discover what the world is like for one another.  When you realize that maybe you have something in common, it becomes easier to set aside the aversions that set you apart.  In short, discover the meaning of someone who is not like you.  J



Perception is Reality….really???

Dr. Ken Larsen

A friend of mine is the news anchor for a Midwest TV station.  She was interviewing me about how our brain processes our sensory experience.  At one point she reported that it is a common understanding that perception is reality.  I think many of us believe that that is true.

A firm grasp on reality is kind of important to be mentally healthy.  However, there was something unsettled in me about simply accepting that “perception is reality.”  What came to mind is the old Philosophy 101 question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, is there a sound?”  The answer of course depends on how you define sound.  That same answer can apply to how we define “reality”.

How much strife and conflict have come to us because of not understanding what this picture illustrates?

Many if not most disagreements are simply the result of “missed understanding.”   See how that applies to this picture.  Each of them is clear on “reality”.  It is the same thing for both of them.  Here’s the rub.  If perception is reality, then there are two “realities” which is clearly nonsense.

perception1What happens when they realize their only difference is point of view.  I can imagine them sharing a laugh together and instead of a conflict, they would come to a deeper understanding of each other.

This is a two minute video I did with some friends a couple of years ago.  It illustrates this point in a light hearted manner.  I have heard reports from people all over our country and from as far away as India and South Africa who have enjoyed this video.

Negotiating Differences

By Kim Olver

Magic happens when two people really work at negotiating their differences instead of trying to always get their way. It requires some work but it definitely can be done.


When you go into a negotiation, you are already an expert on one thing – what you want. The thing you don’t know is what the other person wants. Therefore the first step in a successful negotiation is listening to understand how the other person views the situation and what he or she wants.

If both people have the goal of continuing the conversation until both people are satisfied, then a successful solution can often be found.

Is there a conflict you’ve been engaged in with someone important to you? Are you willing to work with them to negotiate your differences? How will you begin?