In too many areas of life we try to put people into categories in order to understand them. Democrats and Republicans, Cubs Fans or White Sox Fans,  Nature Lovers or City Dwellers. The challenge with these one or the other categorizations is that they limit people to either or. It is assumed that people cannot be both, or at least relate to both. Which if you know many people is not really true. Most people can see both sides, depending upon the category, and can understand at least the other person’s point of view. 

In our house we love both dogs and cats. My husband and I both grew up with pets, we currently have cats and hope to get puppies later this year. Most people think dogs and cats will not get along. I have seen them behave as frolicking friends, cuddle buddies and even protect each other when necessary. It all depends upon how they were raised. It doesn’t have to be an either or, it can be both. 

We all grow up with preferences and beliefs. We learn them from our parents, teachers, coaches, troop leaders and may not remember as adults where we learned what we currently believe. We have thought this way for so long that we can’t remember not thinking this way. Our thought process has become our way of life. I also know that everyone has the capacity to change the way they think, if they want to change. It’s not that we can’t, it usually boils down to the fact that we won’t. Our way is right and the other way is wrong. We are comfortable with our world, it provides a way to categorize the rest of the world. And if people choose to be in the other category, it only confirms our beliefs about them. 

If you have ever been put in a category by someone, either because they assumed or thought they knew you, you remember how limiting it felt. Your ideas, preferences, choices and identity were boiled down to fit into a categorical box. None of us can be defined by simply one word, one category, or one thought process. People are too dynamic to be defined by a single category. Be careful, if you put people in boxes they will eventually resist and exercise their right to be themselves. So whether you like cats or dogs or both, or maybe even neither…feel free to think and believe as you choose. Who is to say which way is right?