Today’s big idea is that during times of transition, it’s easier than ever to judge someone. Which is ironic, because this is when we need to offer each other the most tolerance we can muster. After all, we’re all recovering from a real humdinger of a year.
Listen to the Podcast Here
My theory is that we humans really don’t like change
Because our brain thrives on completing patterns.And during a time of upheaval, there really is no completion.
To compensate for the uncertainty, we tend to fill in a lot of blanks. Or, in other words, make judgments–about other people and situations. These judgments we make up about folks are almost never true, but we accept them as truth. Especially now when so much is in flux, we’d rather accept a made-up story as truth than accept the fact that there are many things about people that we just can’t know.
The intersection of health, work, childcare, and finances where the pandemic has had its biggest impacts means that there are so many nuances to everything. So many nuances, in fact, that you could never understand all the factors that go into anyone else’s decisions or actions. No matter how empathetic you are.
If someone you know, love, or work with isn’t getting the vaccine, you may make up a story that they are anti-science, when in fact they have a medical condition. Perhaps something related to autoimmunity–that makes it very likely that they’ll have a relapse of their condition when they get the vaccine. And so they are trying to shore up their resilience before they get the shot.
Now more than ever, we’ve got to push back against that urge to judge someone.
So, what to do instead?
A helpful way to steer yourself away from jumping to conclusions about someone else is to remind yourself how little you know about their experience. Seriously, you could fill a book with everything you don’t know about what another person is going through. The wild popularity of the memoir genre proves my point. So how could you possibly determine if someone else’s actions are appropriate or not, if you only know one tiny sliver of what’s happening in their lives?
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is, the next time someone does something that confuses, angers, or upset you, is to remind yourself, “I don’t have any idea what struggles they’re facing.” This not only helps prevent you from making a judgment about them, but it also builds your capacity for not knowing the whole story, and helps you become more tolerant of ambiguity. It also cracks open your mind and heart enough to consider the possibility that maybe they’re experiencing a struggle that you know nothing about, and to wish them well with whatever they’re going through.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, who wrote many helpful books, including The Power of Intention and Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, said “If you meet someone whose soul is not aligned with yours, send them love and move along.” This is how you offer kindness both to someone else and to yourself–because although judgment feels pretty righteous in the moment, it only serves to create disconnection between you and other people, and that’s a lonely place to be. So doing less judging in general can help you feel better, too.
Tune in tomorrow when I’m sharing one more alternative to judgment, and that is extending grace.