“Same, Special, Free, One of a Kind”

One’s Own Uniqueness and Uniqueness of Others Stems from Feeling Love or Recognizing Likeness

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In the sea of media announcements – as well as messages that we personally exchange with the people we know – news about someone reigns supreme. About someone who is special in some way or about someone completely anonymous who is important only to those who love them – family and friends. Special and important circumstances do not happen to mere mortals, but instead only to important people, which is why it’s good – and above all lucrative, according to modern (non-scientific) research – to be special!

Science tells us that there no two fingers on one hand are the same, and in light of that, no two people in the world are either. On the one hand, people are aware of this deep inside and have no doubts about their uniqueness. But on the other hand, on the surface of the needs of many people emerges a strong desire to demonstrate and substanate this authencity in various ways, and somemes they go overboard. Being unique, authenc, special, and singular – every human being feels this urge and as such belongs to different systems or groups of kindred others. These two needs – being with one’s birds of a feather and staying special – are fundamental to human existence.

Over the course of life, in every stage of development, the question arises as to how or – perhaps more importantly – in what order do these needs evolve and what prevails in terms of showing and posioning oneself, regardless of the very certain presence of both dimensions. Since we know that people are very complex beings in both psychological and physiological terms, this too is an area where individuality holds sway. We won’t be looking at childhood, a me when everyone has a pronounced need for belonging, safety, and acceptance, which – in addition to the emotional and family levels – is met also by belonging to groups in which we share similar interests and/or proclivities. After finishing high school, getting into college, and integrating into society through employment, adolescence and adulthood steer us towards those that are like us, those that share with us a certain level of interests and proclivities, or similar social needs. However, most often simultaneously, they prompt – or more precisely make conscious – the need to be unique.

Being unique definitely creates a feeling that the person can be privileged on various grounds. If it does not bring any concrete privileges when it comes to the so-called positive uniqueness – owing support, transparency of success – it certainly brings about the circumstance that the person gets noticed. The most important end result of being noticed is the annihilation of one of the most common fears – fear of loneliness, although reality does not necessarily justify this.

The psychological self-portrait of uniqueness or a portrait of someone’s uniqueness, as always, has the other side of the coin, which is what is expected from us as unique people and being aware of how difficult it is to survive on the pedestal that others have put us on by labeling us as unique.

Uniqueness can come in forms that we do not see as positive. Widely used terms such as “white crow” or “black sheep” commonly refer to individuals who don’t behave or comply with social norms, but who are indeed unique. Everyone knows about them, everyone hears about them, everyone is interested in them – even when they are afraid of them or they recoil from a type of uniqueness. Being unique to many means just that – being noticed and abandoning the anonymity of life, which is often interpreted as undesirable. For these people we say that they are unique only because they maintain certain undesirable traits or behaviors. Some other people, unique in terms of virtue, seek a significant place in the lives of others in inadequate – or even unpleasant or perhaps aggressive – ways, emphasizing their uniqueness as an irrefutable argument for myriad demands. We might think that someone, despite being unique, has become also narcissistic, and so the uniqueness loses its allure.

And for those who are unique and who consider themselves unique for some specific reason, there’s a hint of potential pushiness and the question of to what extent is it comfortable and acceptable to the surroundings. Do people who are unique also have a right to unique behaviors that exceeds the capacities of friendship, collegiality, family or romantic relationships? Who and why would or should tolerate that?! Do unique people have actually different, bigger rights than someone who is (with or without reason) considered ordinary? The answer seems easier than it looks at first glance because the experience of others’ uniqueness is either created by ourselves or accepted as imposed by the environment.

We choose whether we accept, support, or act accordingly – and no one else. Similarly, we are the ones who create the sense of our own uniqueness, wanting few or many others around us to accept it. As the number of those who perceive us as unique grows, so do our demands, and our behavior changes in that we raise our criteria and expectations in our relationships, in terms of how much those people who see us as unique are willing to do for us, to please us, or even to forgive us. A look in the mirror of our own uniqueness, which is precisely those other people, creates an often unrealistic image of us or at least an insight into what is alright to ask for and expect, and at the same time not provide. The psychological self-portrait of uniqueness or a portrait of someone’s uniqueness, as always, has the other side of the coin, which is what is expected from us as unique people and being aware of how difficult it is to survive on the pedestal that others have put us
on by labeling us as unique.

Yes, opposites do attract, but similarities stay together! Differences are much more likely to provoke interest than similarities. The most common differences pertain to traits or actions that we aspire to but that we do not own or take. Many mes we might wish to be different, like those whom we perceive as unique, quite often only because they’re living in a dimension that is unattainable to us.

We judge them as unique, although for others they are pretty ordinary. We flirt with our own aspects of uniqueness, experiment with possibilities, testing the limits of our own perception of uniqueness and comparing ourselves with those who have made their authenticity transparent.

It is true that we are unique, but the breadth of our insights into our own uniqueness and uniqueness of others stems from feeling love or recognizing likeness.

When we shake hands with someone who is like us, we don’t think about how our hands are always unique – starting from fingerprints to impressions and feelings that we inspire in each other.

We offer our hand of authenticity to another unique hand, not thinking in advance whether we will be (or become) the one who is unique for that person or situation. We remember that later, the moment when we recognize the importance of the relationship or circumstance to ourselves. We take a look at our newborn and revel in the fact that it looks like us and at the same time wish the child from the bottom of our hearts to be unique, to be better, prett er, wiser and more authentic than ourselves.

And quite often we will raise the child in that direction. Be yourself, but stay mine. Be special, but always belong to me.

To us, people who are unique and special are those who are close to our hearts.

Those who play an important role in our lives, who have special importance and place.

So, when we ask ourselves if there is someone who does not want to be unique, the answer will be “no.” We all want it and we all have at least a few people that we think are unique on a very personal level, and we are aware that it would hurt us if they too wouldn’t keep a special place in their lives for us.

It is true that we are unique, but the breadth of our insights into our own uniqueness and uniqueness of others stems from feeling love or recognizing likeness.

When we realize this, uniqueness will become a mirror for recognizing those we love or aspects we love, and get from others – whether they be artists, athletes, bosses, or random passers-by.

Dragana Deh, M.Sc., psychology, systemic therapist and life coach, together with her fellow experts designs and holds themed educational workshops and team building workshops tailored to the specific needs of both smaller and larger companies. If you need any information, please contact us at dragana.deh@gmail.com (www.psihooaza.com)

 

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