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By heatherferreiracole, Oct 8 2014 04:20PM

The world is full of strange and wonderful people, people who not only look and think differently to us, but view life differently as well. In some ways I think we often don’t appreciate how beautiful our differences are. Can you imagine walking out the door and only ever seeing sunflowers? They would certainly be pretty and we would probably still consider the world a beautiful place but imagine how much variety we would miss out on, how many colours we wouldn’t see, how many fragrances wouldn’t exist.

It can sometimes feel threatening to meet someone who holds very different views or forms of behaviour to the ones we do. The reason for that can often come down to our map of the world that we created as we were growing up. A map that holds preciously within it our feelings of self-worth, our expectations of the way life should be, our belief systems and primarily our feelings of safety and predictability within the world.

So when we meet someone who stands in front of us blatantly and recklessly showing that there is a different way of being, or living, it can feel so unstable that we instantly move into a defensive position “I don’t really like that person”, “Who do they think they are?” “Did you see the way they did that?” which is all a version of “Move away from my map! I like it and I am not going to change it!”

You see when we get too stuck in our ways, we use control to try and keep life safe, stable and as predictable as possible because it allows us to believe that we can escape unpleasant feelings such as fear or pain. But it sadly also gives us a false sense of well being because control just tends to stifle and stagnate the very heart of what life is about, constant change and movement.

So although we have our safety and our security, the very essence of life is missing, and our need for control, for order, for predictability and for the known to stay the known whatever the cost takes over us like some auto-immune system defect. Life gets narrower and narrower until change is banging on the door screaming to come in and we are backed against the wall of our self-created map terrified of what might be out there to be experienced, to be lived, because we have simply lost the courage to keep building and adjusting our map, to accept and allow the new without feeling threatened by it.

I read somewhere once that unless you are doing something – no matter how small - that stretches you every day then you are not truly embracing your potential to live. That is stretching in the sense of facing feelings of discomfort or fear that often prevent us from being brave enough to walk to the edges of our map and see where a new road might take us. Or it can even be allowing that road to exist within our map but standing in our choice not to take it but for it to be ok that it is there - It doesn’t threaten me, but I am comfortable in my choice not to live that way and I don’t need to throw venom at you in order to achieve that level of comfort.

I actually think that it is an incredible gift to be so open minded that nobody threatens you. If I were to imagine a world where everyone was in-line with everything I stood for and found important it would be such a dull world. There would be no room for creativity, expression or vitality, in any other form than in the one I appear in. Beauty would be severely limited to my imagination as would ugliness, and tragically there would be no way to learn another way of being. Nobody would disagree with me and nobody would enhance my view of the world and therefore there would be no room for expansion in that sense.

So I guess I am asking ‘Who expands you?’ What weird and wonderful person did you meet today that made your line of thinking change, even if just by a little bit. What encounter did you have or conversation that made you view the world differently, if just for a fraction of a second.

You see I don’t believe we have to be Mother Teresa to be able to look at the world’s differences without getting threatened by them. Quite simply when we are threatened we raise our defenses and that makes us closed to the world and what it has to offer us in terms of learning, variety and abundance. As a result of being closed we cannot help but react to life rather than choosing how we wish to behave in any given moment. So we are constantly in fear, walking through life on a back foot, dreading what might walk around the corner.

With openness and a sense of self that isn’t threatened by others we could in fact reach every river bend with an excitement for the new, thereby appreciating every new flower, fragrance and colour for what it is, simply a different expression of the universe that if allowed might actually enhance our world from the inside out.

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