Harmony and thinking in inclusion begin with accepting what is.

Tomorrow’s world is built on mutual understanding. Involving human values that are not empty words but that have actual meaning. Free from hassle or battle. It is about thinking in “and-and” (inclusion).

This begins with accepting what is without judgment or any need to “fix” things. It is what it is and it is all right as it is. Nothing more, nothing less.

This thinking in inclusion is brought into action by paying attention to:
1) Being You

The starting point is that it is okay to be who you are as well are your thoughts and feelings. After all, you are not your thoughts or feelings. These come and go. You do not control them. You merely have them. What you can do however is determine how you deal with your thoughts and feelings. And, make yourself responsible for this.

When faced with an unpleasant or painful thought or situation, you do not give in to your first impulse to resist or run away from it. Instead of this normal automatic reaction of fight or flight, you look at the situation. You look at what it is about, what you think and feel, and then you leave it as it is. Free from any judgment or label.

Things become less heavy when you handle them without the hassle of good and bad. It is then also easier to let go of what you otherwise would have considered being awkward, unpleasant, unsafe, frightening, or painful. This letting go gives you some peace (of mind) and allows you to make other choices.

Like this you allow yourself to be who you are and shape your life according to this principle.

2) The other one also matters

It will subsequently be less difficult to deal with what matters to others, how they see the world, what their story is, where they come from, and what they need. And at the same time to give the other some space without blocking yourself or the intercommunication.

Again, it is about not giving in to your first reaction and letting go of feelings of discomfort, irritation, incomprehension, or anger. You just look at it and accept that it is fine to disagree. You are both different persons and yóur view is not necessarily the better one.

You are only responsible for yourself. Not for someone else. You cannot control what another person thinks, feels, or does. Nor can you control how others deal with things. You cannot fix them or make them change. They can only do so themselves.

In this way, you allow others to be who they are. Free from how you think things should be.

3) Boundaries ensuring “both you and me” 

In interacting with others, it is very important to set boundaries. This gives clarity about the personal space you need In order to be (with) yourself and the space the other person needs in order to be him- or herself.  

It is the space of “I am Me” and “You are You”. It is particularly about thinking in inclusion, in and-and. Making sure you do not give yourself away, do not let things go at the expense of yourself or the other(s). It involves setting boundaries where hard and soft go together. Based on the principle of harmony of a calm mind and a warm heart.

This enables you to be clear while responding in a humane, understanding, and compassionate manner. Without fierceness, without sharp edges, without blame or vehemence, without grandstanding, without losing yourself, and without feeling responsible for the other person’s reaction.

In doing so, you do not violate yourself or the other person. You bring yourself in and respect the other party as well.

4) Letting go of “I do and you don’t” 

Thinking in and acting from inclusion leads to less hassle and more harmony. It offers a larger perspective. It broadens your reality and brings forth new possibilities. It is something that each of us can master. All, in our own way, we can have a positive impact on ourselves, our surroundings, and our future.

The idea that it is human nature to think in terms of “survival of the fittest”, in terms of “I do and you don’t”, is a limiting conviction that stops us from letting go of this paradigm. Moreover, it disempowers our abilities to actually live in harmony with each other.


The doorway to new lies in seeing, acknowledging, and facing this idea. Then the dream of a better world and a future vision for a world that works for all of us can sprout.

(This text is a translation of an article written for the Dutch Magazine Spiegelbeeld, March 2020,  ©Yael van Assendelft)

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Categories: Inclusion