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Our last online course of the year is coming up. Details below.

A previous participant said:
I enjoyed watching the harmony between the two of you. And all of the participating in breakout groups and in the main group was rewarding and helped me to get in touch with many things within myself. I highly recommend you and am very appreciative of your class and all it offers. Patricia

How Looking at Similarities Rather Than Differences Improves Your Relationships

Similar flowersYour attitude, the position you come from in an exchange, can dramatically change the outcome.

In all your relationships, the issue of whether you put your attention toward similarities or differences plays a big part in whether those relationships are harmonious or acrimonious. It is sometimes a shock to realize that nothing is fundamentally different in these highly polarized positions except your viewpoint. What are you looking at in your relationships? Are you looking at your commonality or do you dwell on the differences between you?

When you are working out things in your relationships and you encounter a disconnect, or tension builds, it’s good to pause and re-frame the moment by looking at similarities rather than differences. It shifts the focus to mutual paths.

This sounds like such a simple thing, and as with so many simple things, it takes doing it to understand it. You see what you expect to see, and you don’t see what you presume isn’t there. With partners, friends and many relations, there are usually more similarities and areas for agreement than points of unresolvable difference.

Any two things have both differences and similarities. There are always differences, because otherwise, they would be the same thing, yet there are always similarities as well, even if it is as basic as something like both consisting of atoms.

By looking at the similarities, you can see a united world; looking at differences, you see a divided world where conflict is always implicit, and sometimes is actually happening. Even though we do not have a united world, it is something to dream of and work toward. A divided viewpoint has no such vision of a better situation.

In intimate relationships, although it may not be obvious in the moment, you are usually on the same side and want the best for each other. When you look for similarities in your wants and needs and in your desired outcomes, you will most assuredly find them. Once you do, it often just comes down to working out the methods to achieve your similar goals.

The feelings when you look at similarities are entirely different than when you concentrate on differences. A feeling of connection arises that leads to an awareness that there is a way to come to agreement, one in which the resonance of your similarities carries you through your differences to a place of mutual accord. What it evokes in you will be more pleasant, more peaceful, more productive. You will be more likely to recognize the sense of “we”, the sense of what you both have in common, or more radically, to look at the question of identity and to recognize what you are in common.

Much depends on your intention. As you become more attracted toward having a peaceful relationship, your intention to make it happen will increase. By seeing it in this way, you re-frame how you see the world. When you are looking at things from this perspective, the differences between you are not seen as a challenge but an asset that adds variety and new perspective to your lives.

(Phil says the programming term is WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get.)

Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: Flowers in Larkspur, CA

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Last Online Course of the Year

Spread the word to everyone you know!

Poster for course

Day 1: Saturday October 15, 2022

  • Session 1: 9:00 AM PDT looks at Core Values, finding out what yours are and how they are fundamental to your relationships.
  • Session 2: 2:00 PM PDT explores respecting individuality and the radical result of total acceptance which transforms your relationships.

Day 2: Sunday October 16, 2022

  • Session 3: 2:00 PM PDT is Phil and Maude's process for creating mutual solutions rather than fighting and arguing.

Follow-up meeting:

  • Saturday October22, 2022 at 9 AM PDT for an hour, getting back together with the group and sharing how people have applied the ideas from the course. This is an optional follow-up meeting.
Register at Eventbrite
The content of this course can be applied to all relationships. Your participation is welcomed regardless of your particular situation: you can come as a couple, a single, one member of a couple, or someone who wants to improve family, friendship or partner relationships.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about how looking at similarities rather than differences improves your relationships. To our surprise, this was the subject of many interesting recent studies focusing on the idea of looking at similarities rather than differences.

The world is much more alike than different "The cornerstone of discrimination is the belief that other people, including people of other races from other countries, are different. They experience life differently; they react differently. What if research could demonstrate that’s not true? A new study from UC Riverside asserts the world population may have much more in common than it has differences. 'Even though individuals within the same country have more similar experiences than those in different countries, the differences are barely noticeable,' said Daniel Lee"

The dangers of focusing on differences (and what we can do about it) "We group others according to markers like species, age, apparent sex, skin colour, weight, facial features, and clothing. When we use these cues, we will perceive another as being similar or different. Human enterprises such as the media and the social sciences also rely on sorting information according to similarity and difference. The end result is that we are constantly exposed to information through the lens of social groups, and more often than not, in terms of “us and them.” The problem is that once things are categorised into social groups, there is a bias towards focusing on difference rather than similarity."

A New Way to Look at the Data: Similarities Between Groups of People Are Large and Important "On average, the amount of similarity between 2 groups (e.g., high vs. low educated or different countries) was greater than 90%.... Here, we suggest that quantitative social science may be inadvertently helping to foster [racism] by focusing on differences between groups and neglecting to highlight stronger and important similarities. For instance, if social scientists were comparing two groups of people with respect to moral attitudes, the researchers could describe either the differences or the similarities between the groups—or, indeed, both. Historically, the focus of social science research in general and psychological research in particular has been on the description of differences between groups."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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