You’re a Bad Decision or Two Away From Becoming the Person You’re Judging
Why I consistently Try and Choose Empathy First
It’s in our nature as humans to judge others. I write this not to criticize those who do — but instead remind myself to try not to.
As someone who has made every mistake in the book and most of them twice, I have no right to judge another for their actions or words.
While judgement is without a doubt the leading impulse in me when others do or say things that leave me scratching my head, I first try and recall all the times I was in their shoes. When I said or did something nobody agreed with or understood. Because the truth is, we’re the only ones fully capable of understanding why we make the decisions we do — and even we sometimes don’t understand them.
There is a million factors that play a role in how we make our decisions — many we’re not even aware of ourselves. The human mind is still largely a mystery. As much as we like to try and pretend we understand it, we have more to learn about it than we do to teach.
Someone very close to me recently made a decision, nobody around them including myself understands. Out of respect for their privacy, I’m going to continue to be very general about it. While it was no doubt a bad decision, it’s one I’m doing my best to be understanding of, while the majority of others criticize and don’t answer this persons calls. Ignoring them is a decision I understand but not one that will help bring a solution to the problem at hand.
What I feel like these people are failing to realize, is we’ve all been in this friend’s shoes and it’s likely we all will be again at some point. It’s easy to judge — but it hurts like hell when the judgement is aimed at you. It’s that last part that we too often forget. Pretending we’re better than others works, until it’s so obvious we’re not. The day may come when the roles are reversed and it’s you that’s asking for empathy and a bit of understanding from others.
While empathy has been somewhat trendy as of late thanks to people like Gary Vaynerchuk, I feel like many are merely paying lip service to it while failing to put it into practice. It’s great we’re all becoming more self aware — but awareness without action gets us nowhere.
We judge others, before we even know what led them to where they are. The homeless person you assume is lazy drug addict who doesn’t want to work, could be a veteran with PTSD or worse. The driver you called a maniac for speeding, could’ve just gotten a call their kid was rushed to the hospital.
It’s easy to assume the worst about people without examining the whys, while ignoring the bigger picture. We often judge results, without having any clue as to what the cause of those results were. Few things are as simple as they first appear.
The reality is, all of us are only a bad decision or two from being in a position we once judged someone for. We’re one tough set of circumstances away, from making the same decision they did which led them there. We know nothing of the battles others are fighting, both internally and externally.
The next time you go to judge someone, I challenge you to try and understand where they’re coming from instead. If they make a decision you don’t agree with, ask them about it and actually listen. It can make all the difference.