Life brings us various people. Some of them are quite like us while others are completely different. In school, you may associate with students who are of your level of intelligence. Often students who aren’t very smart or interested in studies ridicule those who are. Bright students are labeled nerds and are humiliated and disliked. We create a level of effort that is acceptable, for instance taking down notes, and dislike people who go beyond this limit by asking questions or making short notes.
We also tend to criticize anything that we don’t agree with or want. When someone gets a tattoo, they keep getting asked why they wanted such a permanent mark on their skin. They are often questioned and laughed at; they are called names and told to not ruin their bodies. However, if an adult wants to get a tattoo, why are we intervening and forcing them to do as we want?
Religion is another way in which we force our beliefs on other people. We all have a right to choose our own faith or religion, and even if someone wants to remain an atheist or agnostic, we shouldn’t criticize their beliefs or lack of them. We can’t assume that our beliefs should be followed by everyone.
Looking at the Gestalt Prayer, which is a 56-word statement by Fritz Perls, a psychotherapist, the first line of ‘I do my thing and you do your thing’ is of great importance. While you may not agree with what another does, if it’s legal and doesn’t harm anyone, you shouldn’t intervene and expect the other to not do whatever it is that you don’t agree with. Similarly, you shouldn’t feel obliged to do something simply because another is telling you to.
The next two lines speak of expectations and this is something that stops us from being ourselves. We try to meet the expectations of other people, especially society, and thus fail to achieve our own dreams. We forget that we are individuals and can have dreams and goals of our own. We make the expectations of society our own goals, for instance to find a job in selected fields, to get married, start a family, retire and spend our old age at home. However, what if someone wants to travel the world or go on adventures but can’t do so because of society’s expectations?
We must also recognize the importance of individuality, and that just as we are composed of beliefs, opinions, habits and characteristics, other people too are composed of such elements. While we usually understand that people are different, we fail to see that we need to respect this fact about people. Not only should we embrace individuality, we should also allow other people to embrace it. Thus just like we don’t want to be like other people, we need to accept that other people won’t be like us.
Looking at the Gestalt Prayer, it’s obvious that if we always keep it in mind, living as individuals and as a community will be easier. In fact, life will be more beautiful if we can simply follow these 56 words.