Sometimes we get so caught up in being right that we forget about the feelings and well-being of others. That’s when we lose track of what really matters. The people we love, the things we enjoy, and the fact that life is short. What’s the point of being right if you end up unhappy and lonely because of it? Maybe we’re all right in our own way, maybe no one is always right, and maybe it doesn’t really matter who’s right or wrong.
Focus on the important things like enjoying the precious time we have in life with those we love and care about. Set aside your differences and accept each other without condition. Make the most of what you have and help those around you to do the same. In the end, who was right or wrong won’t matter as much as the time you spent with others and the quality of that time.
Understand that we all have different opinions and experiences in life, and get past those things so you can enjoy your time with loved ones and friends. Put love and friendship above opinion and other things in life. It is the time we spend with others that makes our lives meaningful in the end. The older you get, the fewer friends and family you have left in your life, so you realize that they are the most precious things to you.
Also as you age, you look back and regret the time you missed with loved ones and the mistakes you made in those relationships. You also see how foolish some arguments were or how unimportant the whole argument was. Regret always comes with age, but learning from mistakes is how we grow and improve as a person. So don’t hold on to the regret, forgive yourself and move on with that lesson in mind so you don’t repeat the mistakes of your past.
In conclusion, being right is not as important as being kind, compassionate, and respectful to others. We should not let our opinions and differences get in the way of our relationships and happiness. We should cherish the time we have with our loved ones and friends, and make the most of every moment. We should also learn from our mistakes and forgive ourselves and others. Life is too short to waste on arguments and regrets. We should live with love and gratitude in our hearts, and enjoy the gift of life that we have been given.
Throughout life, you have to face things such as peer pressure, social pressures, and judgment by your peers. It starts as early as your childhood, first in your home then even more in your school years. It never ends, you have to deal with the opinions of others around you and you have to deal with their impression of who you are. This puts a lot of stress on you and your self-image and self-esteem.
Some people seem to naturally or instinctively deal with such things with little effort or negative effects on their emotional and mental well-being, others take it all to heart and internalize all of the opinions and judgments aimed at them and wind up with poor self-esteem and poor self-image. I wonder what is the difference between both of those types of people, is it that some do not care what others think, or do they just have a better sense of self so what is thrown at them bothers them less?
Either way, if you are the type of person who takes other people’s opinions of you to heart and allows them to decimate your self-worth and self-esteem, you need to learn techniques in dealing with such. Finding the right tools to help you cope with such things and find ways to improve your self-image and so on.
How to Deal with Other People’s Opinions of You
One of the biggest challenges we face in life is how to deal with other people’s opinions of us. Whether it’s our family, friends, coworkers, or strangers, we often encounter criticism, judgment, or rejection from others who don’t understand us or share our values. Sometimes, these opinions can hurt us deeply and make us doubt ourselves and our worth.
But the truth is, other people’s opinions of us are not facts. They are just perspectives, based on their own experiences, beliefs, and biases. They don’t define who we are or what we can do. They don’t have the power to change our reality unless we let them.
So how can we deal with other people’s opinions of us without letting them affect our happiness and self-esteem? Here are some tips:
Remember that you are not responsible for other people’s opinions. You can’t control what they think or say about you, but you can control how you react to them. Don’t take their opinions personally or let them influence your decisions. You are the only one who knows yourself best and what is right for you.
Focus on your own opinions of yourself. The most important opinion you have is the one you have of yourself. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Recognize your strengths and achievements. Celebrate your uniqueness and authenticity. Don’t compare yourself to others or seek their approval. You are enough as you are.
Surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Choose to spend time with people who respect you, appreciate you, and encourage you. People who inspire you, challenge you, and help you grow. People who love you for who you are and not for who they want you to be. These are the people who matter the most and whose opinions you should value.
Learn from constructive feedback but ignore destructive criticism. Not all opinions are equal. Some opinions can be helpful and beneficial, while others can be harmful and detrimental. Learn to distinguish between constructive feedback and destructive criticism. Constructive feedback is honest, respectful, and specific. It aims to help you improve and grow. Destructive criticism is rude, vague, and general. It aims to hurt you and tear you down. Learn from the former but ignore the latter.
Express yourself confidently and respectfully. Don’t be afraid to share your opinions, thoughts, and feelings with others. Don’t let other people’s opinions silence you or make you feel ashamed. You have the right to express yourself and be heard. But also be respectful of other people’s opinions, even if they differ from yours. You don’t have to agree with them or change them, but you can acknowledge them and try to understand them.
Remember that other people’s opinions of you are not your problem. They are their problem. You don’t have to let them affect your happiness and self-esteem. You are a unique and valuable person who deserves respect and love from yourself and others.
Improving your self image and self esteem
Self image is how you see yourself, and self esteem is how you feel about yourself. Both are important for your well-being and happiness. However, many people struggle with low self image and self esteem due to various factors, such as negative feedback, unrealistic expectations, social comparison, or past experiences.
If you are one of them, don’t worry. You are not alone, and you can improve your self image and self esteem with some simple steps. Here are some tips to help you:
Recognize your strengths and achievements. You have many qualities and skills that make you unique and valuable. Make a list of them and remind yourself of them often. Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. Don’t let others define you or put you down.
Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend. Speak to yourself positively and respectfully. Avoid harsh criticism and self-judgment. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and accept yourself as you are. You are worthy of love and respect.
Challenge your negative thoughts and beliefs. Sometimes we have distorted or irrational thoughts that affect our self image and self esteem. For example, we may think that we are not good enough, that we have to be perfect, or that we can’t change. These thoughts are not true and they only limit us. Try to identify them and replace them with more realistic and positive ones. For example, instead of thinking “I can’t do anything right”, think “I can do many things well and I can improve on others”.
Take care of your physical and mental health. Your body and mind are connected, and they influence each other. When you take care of your physical health, you feel better mentally, and vice versa. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and avoid substances that harm you. Also, practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga, to reduce stress and anxiety.
Do things that make you happy and fulfilled. Find hobbies and activities that you enjoy and that bring you joy. Express yourself creatively through art, music, writing, or any other form. Learn new things and challenge yourself. Volunteer for a cause that you care about or help someone in need. These things will boost your confidence and self-esteem, as well as make your life more meaningful.
Improving your self image and self esteem is not easy, but it is possible. It takes time, patience, and practice. But it is worth it, because you deserve to feel good about yourself and to live a happy life.
Toxic people are unfortunately a fact of life. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or coworker, we’ve all come across someone who seems to constantly bring negativity and drama into our lives. Dealing with toxic people can be difficult and draining, but there are strategies you can use to protect yourself and maintain your mental health.
Firstly, it’s important to identify toxic behaviors. Toxic people tend to be negative, and critical, and always seem to be in conflict with others. They may gossip or spread rumors, undermine your confidence, or try to control your actions. They may also be manipulative, playing on your emotions to get what they want.
Once you’ve identified toxic behaviors, it’s important to set boundaries. This can be difficult, especially if the toxic person is a friend or family member, but it’s essential for your well-being. You can start by limiting your interactions with them and avoiding conversations that involve negativity or drama. If you have to interact with them, keep your conversations light and focused on positive topics.
It’s also important to remember that toxic people often thrive on conflict and drama, so don’t engage with them when they try to bait you into an argument. Instead, take a step back and remind yourself that their behavior is not a reflection of you. Focus on your own goals and priorities, and don’t let their negativity derail your progress.
Another important strategy is to surround yourself with positive influences. Seek out friends and family members who support you and lift you up, and try to spend more time with them. You can also seek out new social circles or hobbies that bring you joy and fulfillment. By focusing on positive influences, you’ll have a better perspective on life and be better equipped to deal with toxic people when they arise.
Finally, it’s important to practice self-care. Dealing with toxic people can be draining, so it’s important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. You can also practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, to help you stay centered and focused.
In conclusion, dealing with toxic people is never easy, but it’s important to remember that you have the power to protect yourself and maintain your mental health. By identifying toxic behaviors, setting boundaries, surrounding yourself with positive influences, and practicing self-care, you can stay resilient and focused on your own goals and priorities.
Here are a few websites that may help you with toxic people and mental health issues
Psychology Today – A website that offers articles and resources on psychology and mental health, including tips for dealing with toxic people.
Tiny Buddha – A personal development website that provides articles and resources on mindfulness, happiness, and personal growth. They have a section specifically on toxic people and how to deal with them.
The Gottman Institute – A website dedicated to improving relationships through research-based principles. They have an article on how to deal with toxic people, specifically in the context of romantic relationships.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – A mental health organization that provides resources and support for individuals and families affected by mental illness. They have a section on their website dedicated to dealing with difficult people.
Mindful – A website that offers resources and information on mindfulness and meditation. They have an article on how to protect yourself from toxic people by cultivating mindfulness.
Oh, how easy it is to get lost in your own mind, caught in worries, and in your own insecurities. To be locked in a never-ending cycle of what if, why me, and life isn’t fair. We tend to be stuck in a tunnel view of life at times. It is so easy to fall into the trap of seeing things as always about ourselves or that the world is against us. I think everyone deals with such thoughts and feelings from time to time, and that is okay I think. But being constantly stuck in that train of thought is unhealthy and it keeps us from moving forward and from enjoying life.
Life is about everyone and everything around us, we are not the center of the universe though it is easy to feel like the center of things. I believe it is human nature to be somewhat self-centered, It is part of the self-preservation mechanism within us all. I do not think it is even possible to be totally selfless, though I do think we can reach a pretty high percentage of being such. But then again there are known mental illnesses such as the martyr syndrome and so on that may make one appear more so selfless and other mental illnesses that can cause the opposite effect.
I think people should regularly check themselves, see how they treat others, and how they react to being treated by others as well. Since how one person acts and treats others influences all those around them in one fashion or another, then we should try to be a force for good in society. We should try to lead by example, and treat others, and ourselves in a kind and compassionate manner. If more people focused on how they treated others around them, the less toxic people and environments we all would have to encounter. Being toxic and/or self-entitled is damaging to society and in the long run, will only eat away at the person being toxic and/or self-entitled.
A percentage of toxic and self-entitled people may be suffering some sort of emotional or mental illness, and we should remember that. It is best to avoid those people if you can not get through to them and set boundaries for them when it comes to your relationship. Do not allow the toxic behavior of others to bait you into being toxic yourself, you have to hold the high ground and lead by example. It is so easy to fall prey to being baited into a word battle with toxic people. They seem to enjoy causing turmoil and thrive in the toxic atmosphere.
It is not easy to try and be a good-hearted individual, to think of others as much if not more than yourself. But then anything worthwhile takes a lot of effort, and it does not only help you emotionally and mentally, but it also helps those around you. To love, have compassion for others, and be charitable are very important and are quite therapeutic in the end. When we help others we are also helping ourselves, it causes our body to produce chemicals that make us feel happy or content. The human body and brain are geared towards pleasure as a reward, reason why humans are so prone to addiction, But that’s a topic for another post.
In the end, it boils down to the battle between the self-centered and benevolent sides of our ego. When they are in balance all is good, when it tips one way or another there are complications. Either we will put ourselves before and above all others causing harm to others eventually or we will put others above ourselves to such an extent that we will neglect our own well-being. It is all about balance, and what balance is right for you as an individual.
Just some thoughts for you, not bad for me before my first cup of coffee lol.
Here are some steps that may help to improve low self-esteem:
Challenge negative thoughts: Start by identifying negative self-talk and replace it with positive, more realistic affirmations.
Practice self-care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you feel good about yourself.
Set achievable goals: Accomplishing small tasks can boost confidence and help improve self-esteem.
Surround yourself with positive people: Seek out supportive friends and family members who will encourage and motivate you.
Seek professional help: A therapist can help you understand the root causes of low self-esteem and develop effective coping strategies.
Remember, improving self-esteem is a process and it may take time to see results, but with persistence and patience, it is possible to feel better about yourself.
Causes of low self-esteem
Low self-esteem can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
Childhood experiences: Traumatic or negative experiences during childhood can affect a person’s self-esteem.
Perfectionism: Holding oneself to unrealistic standards and constantly feeling like you fall short can lead to low self-esteem.
Social comparison: Constantly comparing oneself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
Mental health conditions: Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can affect self-esteem.
Relationships: Negative relationships, such as abuse or bullying, can lower self-esteem.
Physical appearance: Society’s emphasis on physical appearance can lead to low self-esteem in people who feel they don’t meet certain standards.
Life events: Significant events, such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, or job loss, can lead to low self-esteem.
It’s important to understand that low self-esteem is a complex issue and there can be many different causes. A combination of factors may contribute to low self-esteem in an individual.
Meditation and Self Esteem
Meditation can be a helpful tool in improving self-esteem by:
Reducing stress and anxiety: By calming the mind, meditation can help reduce the negative impact of stress and anxiety on self-esteem.
Increasing self-awareness: Meditation can help increase self-awareness and help you identify negative thought patterns that may contribute to low self-esteem.
Boosting positive emotions: Regular meditation practice can help cultivate feelings of calm, peace, and joy, which can counteract negative emotions that may contribute to low self-esteem.
Improving self-compassion: Meditation can help increase self-compassion by promoting a kind and non-judgmental attitude towards oneself.
Enhancing focus and concentration: Meditation can improve cognitive abilities such as focus and concentration, leading to improved self-confidence and self-esteem.
It’s important to remember that meditation is just one tool that can help improve self-esteem, and it may take time and consistent practice to see results. It’s also important to seek out additional resources, such as therapy or support groups, if necessary.
Visualization and Self-esteem
Visualization is a technique that involves creating mental images to help achieve a desired outcome. It can be a helpful tool in improving self-esteem by:
Boosting confidence: Visualizing yourself successfully accomplishing a task can help increase self-confidence and improve self-esteem.
Changing negative thought patterns: Visualizing a positive outcome can help replace negative thoughts and beliefs with positive, empowering ones.
Building resilience: Visualizing yourself overcoming obstacles and challenges can help build resilience and improve self-esteem.
Improving self-image: Visualizing yourself as confident and capable can help improve your self-image and increase self-esteem.
Enhancing motivation: Visualizing your desired outcome can help increase motivation and drive to achieve your goals, which can help improve self-esteem.
Visualization is a tool that can be used in conjunction with other self-esteem-building techniques, such as positive affirmations, self-care, and goal setting. It’s important to remember that visualization is just one tool and consistent effort and practice may be needed to see results.
Diet and self-esteem
Diet can have an impact on self-esteem by affecting physical and mental health. Here are some ways diet can impact self-esteem:
Physical appearance: A well-balanced diet that provides essential nutrients can improve physical appearance, leading to increased self-esteem.
Energy levels: A balanced diet that provides sufficient nutrients can help improve energy levels, which can enhance feelings of well-being and boost self-esteem.
Mental health: Certain nutrients, such as Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, are important for brain health and can impact mental health, including self-esteem.
Body image: Negative body image can impact self-esteem, and an unhealthy relationship with food, such as disordered eating, can exacerbate these feelings.
It’s important to note that a healthy diet is just one aspect of overall physical and mental well-being, and it’s important to address any underlying issues contributing to low self-esteem through additional self-care practices and seeking professional help if needed.
In conclusion, low self-esteem can have a significant impact on one’s life and well-being. Improving self-esteem requires a holistic approach, including a combination of self-care practices, goal setting, and seeking support from others. Meditation, visualization, and diet can all play a role in improving self-esteem, but it’s important to remember that each individual’s experience and the journey is unique. If low self-esteem persists or interferes with daily life, it’s recommended to seek help from a mental health professional.
Here are some books that can be helpful for individuals looking to improve their self-esteem:
“The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem” by Nathaniel Branden
“Self-Esteem: A Proven Program of Cognitive Techniques for Assessing, Improving, and Maintaining Your Self-Esteem” by Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning, and Kim Paleg
“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers
“Mind Over Mood” by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky
“The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt” by Russ Harris
It’s important to remember that self-help books can be a useful tool, but they should not replace professional help for individuals experiencing persistent low self-esteem or other mental health issues. It’s always a good idea to consult a mental health professional for personalized advice and treatment.
Why all the stigma around mental health? Why do people have to be so cruel to those that just need a little help? We all need a little help now and then (even if some folks won’t ever admit it). There is no shame in admitting you need help and asking for it is the best thing to do. Life can be quite challenging at times, and our hearts and minds can be somewhat fragile at times as well. Getting help shows courage and demonstrates you have the strength to do what is needed to move forward in your life.
We face so much negativity in life, and a good part of it is during our youth, during the years we are developing our emotional and mental makeup and forming our personality as well. School years can be both the most wonderful and also the most dangerous time for us as individuals. During those years we form social bonds and face opposition from others in the form of bullying and social stereotyping. This is when we tend to gain many emotional and mental scars and problems. If we do not learn to overcome them eventually they just get worse as we age.
With all the suicides and gun violence and other forms of violence on the rise, it should be very apparent there is a need for more extensive mental health programs for all ages. Parents and teachers alike should be more observant and responsive to signs of depression, being bullied, and psychotic behavior. If we can catch a lot of the problems early we may avert the negative outcome that many may have to experience later in their lives. More has to be done both on the local and federal levels to make mental health services easier and more affordable to access so we can get a handle on this mental health problem our nation is facing.
Just remember the next time you see someone who needs help don’t just laugh at them or ignore them, instead try to help them find the help they need.
There are many things in life we have little to no ability to change or affect. There are things though, that we have complete control over in our lives and that is where we should focus our energy on. For example, you may have no control over how others perceive you or how they think about you in general, but you do have control over how you treat other people and how you view yourself. One would hope that how we act and treat others, and the words we chose to have some influence on the opinions of others but in the end, it is something that is out of our control.
Basically, your life is yours to lead, and how you live it has a great influence on how much happiness you have in life. You can live your life selfishly, find some quick self-gratification and temporary bliss from possessions and wealth or you can choose to live a more selfless and humble life. Not everyone is cut out to be like a monk and live without any sort of possessions and be totally selfless, but we can find a balance between serving the ego and serving others.
I believe that we all have been given life not only to live and experience all it has to give but also to be stewards of the earth and to teach, help and love one another. Each one of us has a part to play in this grand design of life and each part is unique to each person. Some of us are here to teach, some are here to heal, and so on. Discovery your the part you are to play is not always easy but usually the gifts you were given usually give you clues as to what you are supposed to be doing in life. One example is if you have a natural talent for playing the piano, you could be here to give people entertainment or teach others how to play the piano or you may write a song that changes the minds of others.
Life can be complicated and so can how your mind works, the mind can be your best asset and it also can be an obstacle. Many people battle with depression, low self-esteem, and poor self-image and that will make it an uphill battle in finding happiness in life. Most of us face the memories of past mistakes and the regrets that come from them and many times we face trauma from past experiences that we have a hard time letting go of as well. And once again we come to things we can not change, things in our past are set and won’t change o matter how much we wish they would. Though we can not change the past, we can change how we deal with those past experiences and memories, how we process them, and how they affect us in the present.
We must let go of our past mistakes and the traumatic experiences we suffered due to circumstances and others. Forgiveness is one step in putting those things behind you, you must forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made and forgive others for what they had done as well. Forgiving others serves to free you from the hurt and pain others brought on you more than to free them of guilt. Think about it, how many times have you done something wrong and had been forgiven but yet hold on to the regret? That’s because you haven’t forgiven yourself, so you haven’t released yourself from the grief associated with your mistakes. So forgiving someone is more beneficial to you than it is for the person you are forgiving in the long run.
You can also look at it this way, if the person feels no regret over what they did to you in the first place, then how is the person you are forgiving gaining from your forgiveness? It is about letting go of the hurt, pain, and anger you hold towards the person that has done you wrong in the end. Also Just because you forgave someone does not mean you will forget what they did, and thus the trust they lost will stay the same.
Unloading that baggage of past hurt and regret frees up your mind to focus on more important things, such as being happy and enjoying life with those you love. So that leaves us dealing with poor self-image and self-esteem issues, which is a harder issue since we all have different reasons for being down on ourselves. Could be a combination of us accepting negative opinions of family and/or peers, our own negative opinions of ourselves, and past failures.
You can try to trace things back to their origin, try and figure out why you accepted it as truth, and then accept that it was only opinion, not fact. To be honest there are many self-help books out there dealing with this and if they are not helpful I would suggest getting help from a professional if it is a severe case.
Do your best to change what is within your power and learn to accept the things you can not control or change my friend. Peace and Blessings to all!
Basing your self-worth on other people’s opinions of you and building your self-image on such only leads to a rollercoaster of emotions usually ending you up in depression or in a state of low self esteem. It is human nature to follow such patterns since we enter this world seeking the approval and acceptance of our parents and siblings. Which is fine in the earliest years of our life, but we are supposed to let go of such patterns as we age into young adults.
Unfortunately, many of us either let go of such behavior much later or continue on with it throughout our lives. Sure we can not avoid the opinions of others nor can we let go of that desire to belong and be accepted, but we can learn to navigate with the knowledge that what we think about ourselves is more important. Knowing that our psyche tends to seek approval from others and responds to the opinions of others, we should avoid toxic friends and try to navigate around toxic relatives as much as possible.
There will always be those in your life that do not like you and those that try the hardest to bring you down. Those are people we should try and avoid and ignore their negative comments and actions as much as we can. We should seek out those people that support us, enrich our lives, allong with those who may criticise us in a constructive way. We need some people in our lives that care enough to point out when were going astray just as much as we need those that emphasize with us and/or act as cheerleaders for us.
Toxic friends tend to break you down emotionally and mentally, some of them may not even know they are doing such because they never had positive reinforcement in their lives or a caring family possibly. Do not hate toxic people, just feel sorry for them. They are missing out on the love and happiness they could have in life and embrace the negativity in their lives for the short-lived rush they may feel or the temporary relief from the emptiness they feel.
Being a person that has both been toxic on occasion and the victim of toxic friends I can relate to both sides. On many occasions, I have tried to help some fo those toxic people in my life and rarely did I succeed in helping them because they didn’t want to change their way of thinking or being. This probably was due to my lack of abilities more than anything, so if you want to attempt to help someone who is toxic, I would suggest getting help for them if not seek out help for you to achieve such.
Life is hard enough at times, subjecting yourself to the negativity of toxic people makes it an even harder life to live. I guess there may be some strong enough to deal with toxic friends without suffering the ill effects of being around them all the time.Those people are probably rare and possibly the saving grace for the toxic people in their lives.
Just remember no matter what others may say or think, or even what you may beleive about yourself at times, you are unique and just as important as any other living creature on this planet. There is only one you in this universe and you were born for a reason. Just becuase you can not figure out what that reason is does not mean you do not have purpose in life nor does it mean you are less than anyone else.
If you stop worrying what others might think about you and focus more on how you could impact those around you in a positive and contructive way, you may find that you are quite a good person if you give yourself the chance. Forgive yourself of your past mistakes, and go forward with compassion and understanding. Forgive others as well, since holding onto grudges only does more harm to you than the one you hold the grudge againts. If too much energy is spent on regret and vengence the less energy is left to love others and for you to enjoy the gifts in life that you have.
Yet our findings about students’ attitudes underscore important lessons about fostering tolerance and appreciation on campus for any group. Views of evangelicals are particularly interesting, since they highlight the complexities of social privilege: how individuals can feel discriminated against, even when their community as a whole is influential.
The Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey, or IDEALS, surveyed 9,470 college students from 122 institutions across the country at three times: the beginning of their first year, the end of their first year, and the end of their senior year, which wrapped up in spring 2019. As part of this project, conducted by a team of researchers from Ohio State University, North Carolina University and the nonprofit Interfaith America, we asked students about their attitudes toward religious, spiritual and secular groups, including but not limited to atheists, Jews, Muslims and evangelicals.
We asked students to indicate their responses to four statements on a scale of 1, or “disagree strongly,” to 5, or “agree strongly”:
1) In general, people in this group make positive contributions to society.
2) In general, individuals in this group are ethical people.
3) I have things in common with people in this group.
4) In general, I have a positive attitude toward people in this group.
Our analysis controlled for other variables – such as the institution’s type, selectivity and size, and students’ race, gender, sexual orientation, major and political affiliation – to home in on the specific ways the campus learning environment was related to students’ views about different religious groups.
Compared with their attitudes toward other religious groups on campus, students’ appreciation for evangelicals grew at a slower pace, but still grew. On average, students’ responses showed an increase of over 40% in appreciation toward evangelicals by the end of their first year. By the time students graduated, they demonstrated another 30% increase between the end of their first year and fourth year of college.
After seeing that students’ views of evangelicals improved, on average, we wanted to better understand why.
First, we looked at the experiences students said were related to their gains, such as whether they took a religious studies course. Then, we conducted 18 case studies at institutions of various sizes and affiliations to learn about campus culture and hear from hundreds of students in focus groups. In these groups, we showed students data on the gains reported by their peers on campus and asked them why they thought these gains were made.
We found that appreciation increased for students on campuses they consider committed to inclusion for people of faiths, and people of no faith – regardless of whether the institutions were public or private, large or small, selective or not.
Some students talked about the impact of simply living and studying alongside people from different backgrounds. Many named the influence of interfaith and multifaith centers, spaces dedicated to bringing people from different religions together.
For example, a student at a Protestant-affiliated institution who identified as agnostic noted that she had “experienc[ed] a lot of toxic Christianity” growing up. She credited her interactions with a “progressive Christian” chaplain at her campus’s interfaith center with helping her understand that Christian beliefs and identities are diverse, and not limited to the type of faith she was introduced to as a child.
Survey data also suggested that, on average, students whose views of evangelicals improved reported having at least two curricular experiences related to religion. This included many type of activities: for example, enrolling in a course specifically designed to enhance knowledge of different religious traditions; reflecting on one’s own religion in relationship to other perspectives as part of a class; and discussing other students’ religious or nonreligious backgrounds in class.
How students related to one another was another important theme that often came up in discussions about views of evangelicals.
Many non-Christian students who themselves feel marginalized because of their identities wrestle with how to make their evangelical peers aware of their relative privilege, and of how their beliefs and actions might affect other students.
For example, one student who identifies as atheist at a small, secular college recalled a Christmas tree put on their door by another student. “The person has literally no idea that that could possibly be upsetting,” they said, but added it was “a very sweet thing to do.” In other words, they believed that the other student was likely ignorant of why the Christmas tree could bother other students, but acting out of good intentions, tempering their anger about the unwelcome decoration.
Many students discussed developing empathy and humility. A Catholic student attending a Catholic college summarized, “Myself being a more liberal Christian, I’m not as accepting of the close-minded evangelical Christian … but that’s kind of being close-minded myself. … So I have to examine myself and be like, ‘I’m okay with them being them, even if I don’t agree with them.’ They’re saying, ‘All of these people are saying let’s accept everybody, but you’re not accepting me.’ And I said, ‘That’s absolutely right.’ … Even in political realms, too, I don’t agree with you, but I need to be okay with you.”
Finally, student gains in appreciation also seemed to stem from recognition that evangelicals are diverse, not one homogeneous group – as with the student who appreciated her conversations with the Christian chaplain at her campus’s interfaith center.
As a research team, we found this project’s findings left us considering ways to address deep divisions in the U.S. today. Some principles apply to fostering respect in many other situations beyond religion, and beyond college, from our offices at work to the halls of Congress: intentionally but empathetically engaging with one another’s differences.
Love and its healing that’s found within its unconditional and nurturing embrace is what we all seek. To be accepted as is and without any condition by another whom we accept in the same way. To Embrace and be embraced with only the other person as our concern. To be selfless and affectionate with the other person as our motive to share love. To find one whom matters more than our selves, to see the kind of love God has given us to share with one another. To see the manifestation of love in the eyes of a child and the wonder within that child’s heart.
The innocence we had lost can be seen in the eyes of the children and our future is within them as well. Children are the seeds of love we have planted and are the saplings we are supposed to nurture. Look to them for the love we have forgotten through the years of exposure to the worlds cold and selfish ways. Only if we could see the world through the eyes we had as children we could see the simple truth that love is the answer as well as the question.
Love and its healing that’s found within its unconditional and nurturing embrace is what we all have within our hearts.
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