It is indeed a beautiful thing to present this unique article to you who is a unique reader, a unique person, so to say. Can I share the truth with us all? It is in our uniqueness that our greatness lies. An Author and millionaire quoted “to be great, you must be truly sane and brave and to be truly sane, you must understand and accept that you exist as a unique being”.
Embrace your uniqueness. Now I would like to first define what being unique connotes. To be unique simply means to be of rare quality, to be one of a kind and utterly different from other people.
You have people who have similar genotype, blood group, skin colour, school, parent etc. with you. Yet, it is undeniable that there will always be something that makes others tell the difference between humans that almost seem alike, even identical twins can be differentiated. The primary indicator of our uniqueness is our DNA.
Beyond this or more practically every human uniqueness manifests in their enduring patterns of behaving, relating with others, career choice, lifestyle, attitudes etc. Sometimes our behaviours are influenced by learning, cultural backgrounds and other social affiliations. It is in human nature to relate with and learn from others. It is, however, healthy for every individual to acknowledge their uniqueness in the process of socialisation. This is important for the welfare of such person and the entire society. The more we accept who we are, the more peace we feel within, the more peace we maintain within the environment.
How do we measure uniqueness?
Besides the biological factors such as the DNA, some of the common ways uniqueness is reflected include:
We are able to tell our own uniqueness and others’ uniqueness through the overt responses to several internal and external stimuli. Each person has a unique way of answering questions, positioning their bodies, responding to stress etc. Internal stimuli could be your thought process and emotions while external stimuli include other people, events, schools, friends etc. We all have unique traits that characteristic of us. Our physical gestures that include facial gestures are as well expressions of our uniqueness. Also, our needs and how we meet our needs are ways that we specially express who we are. As Abraham Maslow proposed, there is a hierarchy of five innate needs that activate and direct human ehavior (Maslow, 1968,). These are the physiological, safety, social needs/belongingness, love, esteem, and self-actualisation needs. These needs influence us to act in specific ways to respond to those needs e.g., getting a job, studying hard, starting a business, creating an NGO etc. are all ways we attempt to gratify our endless needs. When we are unable to satisfy these needs, there is an intrusion in our state of equilibrium that might manifest as behavioural problems, antisocial behaviours or criminal acts.
Every person has a specific pattern of processing information, perceiving the world (perception), making decisions, including imaginations. And we must remember that our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviours. Systemic thinking and cultural values often influence conformity, whereby it becomes quite easy to predict behaviours of people that have similar job, ethnicity, family background, religion, etc. Despite this, the exact thought patten each individual adopts is distinct and differs across individuals. The way we perceive events differ; this is why we respond to similar situations differently. It is important to draw our attention to the fact that thoughts form the basis of our emotions, actions, attitudes, choices, decisions, career interests etc. Our personal experiences become the only basis for our judgments and behaviours (Rogers, 1961). Therefore our thoughts, which are unique to each person, play a crucial role in our life as a whole, including our health and relative success. The description and appraisal of success are unique to everyone. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave (Asad, 2019).
Think about it. Harvard research has shown that you can increase your strength just by thinking about it, other areas of your life can be changed for the better simply by thinking about what you want (Asad, 2019). There is the notion that our perception of the world and thoughts about it is subjective. The idea, called phenomenology, argues that the only reality of which we can be sure is our own subjective world of experience, our inner perception of reality which is private (Duane & Sydney, 2004). This is the unique part of the individual, uniqueness begins from our patterns of information processing and thoughts. According to a philosopher (Epictetus), we are what we think. All that we are arise with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.
This refers to our feelings. It determines how we react to situations, events and people. How you or your friend feel about a thing or react to news differs. Emotion is a reactive element to every thought. In other words, for every thought, there is a proportional emotional response. Some people are irritable, some are sensitive, some less responsive etc. All of these do not mean a person is good or bad, righteous or outrageous. It only explains that individuals are made of similar elements, but these elements are combined uniquely. We all have various emotional tendencies, but there is a variation on the spectrum which differs for every person based on several factors: past experiences, uniquely combined biological elements including the genes, observational learning, cultural values, family backgrounds and or other learning experiences. The way to react and respond to losses, failures, success, good news, bad news, etc are unique expressions of our emotion.
This covers our preferences, choices and ways that are peculiar to us. The clothes, phones, hobbies, locations, courses etc. that we typically choose, buy, or use. In fact, the kinds of friends we typically choose/keep or jobs we seek or accept are expressions of our uniqueness. The hobbies and other attitudinal attributes that we exhibit in a way describe our uniqueness. For instance, some people prefer solitude, others thrive in company of large crowd of people, some people enjoy to read books, others prefer to listen to music or news, some people enjoy chatting, others like to spend their money on new models of items while some others will keep whatever they have and use for a longer period of time.
How to discover and embrace your uniqueness
This is a step by step process and I will explain in a way that applies to all of our lives.
- Understand that every human has many things in common, and these common things are uniquely combined for every individual. That is, acknowledging that you are different from others will help you embrace yourself just as you are, you will get to develop your personal values that match the real you yet you will be considerate of the society. Therefore your actions won’t cause significant harm to other people. You will get to respect your child, friend, sibling, neighbour, etc. for their own special existence. You won’t therefore unfairly have expectations of your acquaintances which may begin to cause discomfort to them or their society. I repeat, be opened to the fact that humans have numerous similarities yet you need always to be conscious of the fact that each person is unique and is allowed to be for society to progress accordingly and successfully. To get this done, it requires to stay mindful and carefully observe the differences you notice in you and others around you.
- Respect cultural values that reflect love, integrity, justice and goodness. Every human is created to give and embrace love and goodness. You get to be in touch with your unique self when you adopt values that help you do good. Improve yourself without intentionally causing harm to others. The universal values we need to adopt to facilitate our connection with the inner and real self include love, truth and justice. When we are conscious of these values, we maintain a state of equilibrium within that is reflected as a state of balance and peace in society.
- Understand what keeps you happy and what saddens, bores or annoys you. Identify your weaknesses and strengths. You may do this through careful observation of yourself. Always consciously monitor all of your activities and complement this with journaling, recording or writing down your discoveries. Understand the events and most especially the thoughts that arouse sadness, fear, anger and or tranquillity within you. This will help you to understand yourself more, create your vision and create matching goals, values and norms that guide your life without necessarily causing intense discomfort to others. This indicates you are being diplomatic.
- Mindfulness: Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions. When particular thought you are having makes you feel uneasy or restless. Replace the thoughts with more constructive ones that match your values. Being mindful keeps you focused in the world full of distractions, trying to make you like everyone else. Also, you may adopt STOP cues which may help you to get rid of irrelevant automatic thoughts. STOP cues are used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help clients/patients get rid of automatic thoughts which are usually distorted, hence increase their concentration level. Concentration is required to get our lives on track. It helps us to remember and reflect our values and also helps to focus on our goals and vision, which are all expression of our uniqueness.
- Be open-minded: Be willing to learn and practice the knowledge you acquire. All you are reading here will only become learning if you practise the knowledge, that’s how a skill is acquired. Every learning becomes fruitful and transformational when we let them occupy space within us. What this implies is that we must ensure the information are well represented in our cognition; thoughts and memory, that they become conditioned to our muscular responses. For instance, when we wake up, the next thing we are conditioned to do is to brush, take a shower, pray/meditate and then plan for the day.
- Journaling/Reflection: Track your progress and make the necessary amendment when need be. Write down your accomplishments and failures and find ways to celebrate your accomplishments and to make up for your failures. You may write, record your voice or draw, just measure your progress as you desire. Celebrating yourself is a good compensation for the pleasure-seeking part of our brain, which is known as the hypothalamus. This way, you are compromising with the pleasure-seeking part of the brain that often seeks gratification. When you keep compensating the brain this way, it listens to you when you try to control it or calm it in the face of the stressor, the task to be completed, annoying situations etc. As a result, you will be able to create resolutions and thwart distractions and procrastinations successfully.
- There may be challenges because it is in human nature to conform and avoid being different. But you need to be consistent and persistent and remember that when you embrace your uniqueness, you are heading for greatness and you are playing your special role to contribute to the development of the society. What this implies is that you will entertain thoughts and behaviours about your true passion, desires, and needs and you will be committed to living your life gratifying these relative needs and engaging in activities that reflect your passion. When we engage in activities that make us happy and excited dopamine and serotonin hormones are secreted, three hormones are important for continual motivations and overall wellbeing. This is a reason we see motivational quotes about the fact that success is a result of passion. People who are passionate are consistently, persistently and energetically motivated, therefore they are tirelessly chasing their dreams/goals and progressively realising their visions. Different people have different visions. According to Rogers, persistent fighting or questioning our sense of uniqueness is questioning our life purpose; it is the root of all evils and dysfunctions.
- Repeat the above processes throughout your lifetime and observe the amazing transformation in your life. It’s like dosages of drugs, if you don’t ingest drugs, there can be no alleviation of symptoms nor improvement to wellbeing.
The implication of being unique
What does it mean to be unique, and why should you accept to be unique?
To be unique signifies:
Truth and genuineness
Firstly, you will be living your truth, and that implies effective spiritual connections. Here is where we accept that destiny is a reality, and it influences our gains and losses. As we know, each person has a separate des tiny. Therefore we get to understand that we can take no one’s place and no one can take ours. There is no game that incites tension, no destructive haste; the competition becomes healthy and only pushes each person to be their best self and never to harm others. Let me share a truth with you, sometimes, focusing so much on beating others may be limiting our own highest self because the best of others could be our own average. Focusing on our own uniqueness and how to be better is a true life, well and successfully lived.
When you know you are unique, and you allow yourself to do things that matter to you more, you feel fulfilled and happy. As Steve Jobs said, “When we feel fulfilled, we are compelled to make more, do more and achieve much more”
Healthy social functioning
Being unique means that you are different and you have the awareness that others
are quite different too. Therefore you respect others’ opinions and beliefs that are different from yours. Your tolerance improves, likewise your relationship with others. Social problems usually arise from the intolerance of our differences.
Knowing you are different will help you get things done faster because you know what to do and why to do it. It influences rapid constructive decisions. It intensifies your concentration and ability to complete tasks promptly, providing room to relax more and get other final things done for your continuous growth.
When you live to reflect on your uniqueness, you feel happier, and this has an impact on our overall functioning. Also doing things that matter to us and reflect our uniqueness adds value to the society; therefore, it will attract exchange for other valuable items that also meet your own needs. These valuable items include training, money, services, scholarships etc. With you embracing the uniqueness means you are saying yes to success, peace and happiness.
Interestingly a study of self-acceptance revealed that mothers who embraced who they really were accepted their children as they were rather than as they desired them to be (Medinnus & Curtis, 1963). This research was based on Rogers’s idea that people who accept their own nature realistically (whose perceived and ideal selves are congruent) are more likely to accept others as they really are. This is one evidence that when we embrace who we are and learn more about our personal selves, significant qualities such as courage, high self esteem, kindness, self control, empathy etc. are naturally imbibed.
To be sane is to accept that we are not necessarily the same with others yet we are bound by specific similar universal values (love, truth, justice, productivity) and characteristics, we are able to perceive the world in a reasonable way, and we are able to act on our perceptions in a reasonable way.
When you feel very bad about a situation, learn to take a deep breath to gain control over the situation. This keeps you in touch with the true you and helps you respond accordingly. That keeps you ahead all the time.
You will only make a differencae when you accept you and others are uniquely different. Respect these differences and focus on developing the unique you. Be an inspiration for many others to be their real selves and facilitate stability, peace and unity within the society.
Discover your uniqueness, embrace it, appreciate human differences, and achieve success. Each person is a part of a whole (the Universe,), you won’t fill perfectly to this circle if you do not act as and be who you are; in thoughts, emotions and or actions.
Respect both differences and similarities (norms) in the world but remain resistant to becoming like everyone else. Don’t forget the universal value of remaining good and just. That is all that matters.
Asad, M. (2019) Inspirational Quotes on Thoughts. Awaken the greatness within. London.
Duane, S. & Sydney, S. (2005). Theories of Personality. The United States.
Maslow, A. H. (1957). A philosophy of psychology: The need for a mature science of human nature. Main Currents in Modern Thought, 13, 27–32.
Rogers, C. R. (1961). On becoming a person: A therapist’s view of psychotherapy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.