How You Can Encourage Uniqueness In 6 Easy Steps
1. Teach her being unique isn’t just about “being different”
So – What is Uniqueness?
When we think of something as being unique, we propose “there is nothing else like this, it’s one of a kind.” And, when this kind of proposal gets applied to people, we gloss over the “kind” attribute. Understanding kind requires that we know what makes a person a person – in order to recognize a unique person.
Instead, our emphasis gets placed on the property of “oneness”. We think of the person as being one individual or one type of person – one color, one place, etc.
This line of perceiving moves us toward separating ourselves from one another – and separating a version of who and what we are from the fullness of our true nature.
But being unique doesn’t require that you be one thing or one type. Being unique doesn’t require separateness. In fact, to be a unique “kind” means that you share similarities with others of that kind.
And this is the crux –being a unique kind of person requires that as you express your kind-ness, your humanity that you share with other humans – that you be and express all the versions of yourself – both those that are like others and those that are not.
Uniqueness is your differences and similarities together
Your differences and your similarities together make you unique
2. Teach her that beliefs matter
Why? Because our perspectives in life represent how we think about who and what we are. They establish the framework through which are behaviors are expressed rather than being any behavior we may home in on.
For example, if you believe that humans only succeed through the accumulation and exercising of power – then your behaviors, beliefs, emotional responses, word choices and more will acquire the frame and reference points of “power”. Your entire life and livelihood will reflect this perspective – from suffering because you don’t have power to fighting to defend your position of power to planning and striving to attain power.
Though it may not yet be apparent, Uniqueness is like this – it reflects a worldview that frames life and livelihood. To show how being unique and likewise supporting or encouraging uniqueness exists at this layer of human experience, we’ll need to examine a few related terms.
3. Teaching her uniqueness requires both social and personal diversity, AND yes conformity!
Diversity, as a word, simply represents that there are many versions. Though, the emphasis is on differing versions of something – not just differences for their own sake. Valuing diversity means to value those differing versions. And by extension, social diversity means valuing our society’s differing forms.
Conformity, as a word, represents that the form of one is like the form of another. Valuing conformity means to value the likeness or similarity of form – such as appearances, beliefs, forms of organization, governance, and so on. And again, by extension, social conformity means valuing similarities in our society.
I want my daughter to value herself – her whole self. I want her to feel complete. I want her to value both her personal expressions as well as other’s personal expressions. I want her to appreciate the diversity of human experiences and the environments we live in. Additionally, I want her to work with others successfully in ways that preserve the integrity of her uniqueness and others around her.
To accomplish this, she needs to acknowledge and value her diverse interests and expressions. She needs to socially express that same acknowledgment and value of diversity. Acknowledging and valuing diversity can’t truly be accomplished unless it is applied completely.
To work with others in a way that supports and preserves uniqueness, she also needs to connect with deeper structures that humans share. She needs to navigate and recognize psychological, emotional, and cultural forms that allow her to cooperate, organize, and interact with others. In short, there needs to be conformity between humans in ways that support the development of uniqueness while maintaining its standards.
4. Teach her to respect others point of views
To this end, I aim to model and teach my daughter to respect others and respect her own experiences. I teach her to think critically about her experiences – not what to think, but how to think. In matters of different opinions, I teach her to try and understand why others think or feel differently.
When she receives the message that others’ differences are important, the more she absorbs the message that her differences are important. The more she is listened to and allowed to communicate herself, the more she listens to and can tolerate others. And the more she is allowed to explore her natural interests, the more she is interested in others.
5. Teach her to accept herself first
At its heart, cultivating uniqueness falls in line with a choice discussed in Alice Miller’s book The Drama of the Gifted Child. In her book, she outlined a choice that nearly all children unconsciously face in varying degrees – and frequently with devastating consequences.
She noted that children internalize this message, “If I want to be loved, I need to be what others will accept.”
This is a very real choice our daughters grapple with – that all children, including us adults and parents, have struggled with.
Our daughters are inundated with messages telling them they must be this way or that way to be loved and accepted. They can either be who they are and be rejected by those around them – or they can reject who they are and be loved and adored.
Many times, our approach to uniqueness is focused on “not being like everyone else.” We may tell our daughter that is good or OK to be different. We may tell her that she doesn’t have to be like others – or not to worry about such things. Yet, this will usually leave her feeling even more different, or even isolated.
Therefore, I approach my daughter’s sense of and respect for her uniqueness by focusing on personal diversity. This logic follows the thinking of maxims stating ideas like, “to love others, you must first know how to love yourself.” Or “to forgive others, you must first truly forgive yourself.”
This kind of turns the old saying, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” on its head. Instead, “do unto your true self first, before you can truly do unto others.” This later perspective also includes an understanding that you will treat others the way you already treat yourself. Your treatment of others reflects how you treat your true self.
6. You need to model acceptance at home
In the end, the same formulae apply when you want to intentionally raise your daughter.
If you want to support and encourage certain ways of thinking and behaving, then make those normal in everything you do.
Figure out what is essential to living in the manner you want to model – and apply what you learn everywhere. It takes time to let something you grasp on an essential level to percolate and infuse itself through all your activities.
If you need to make changes in your life and household, you need to allow yourself time to change – time to show consistency and develop credibility. New normal doesn’t happen overnight – unless you’re a pandemic.
Just remember, being unique starts with you. Change starts with you. If you’re needing to address issues around uniqueness, diversity, conformity, change, and the like, never forget to factor your own perspectives and behaviors into the formula.