Judging Others & Projection
Have you ever been in a situation involving another person where you thought to yourself…
“You know if they would only: apply themselves, work harder, smarter, do what I do, take my advice, be more like me, etc. they would be so much better off?”
Maybe you exited the highway, and at the end of the ramp was a homeless person with a sign and you thought, “If you would stop begging and find a job, you wouldn’t be in this situation.”
In situations where we project our own beliefs on others, we need to remember that we don’t know the whole story.
The Last 18 Months
Over the course of the last 18 months, many of us have been faced with challenges we never imagined. Quarantining, wearing masks, social distancing, and numerous restrictions caused a huge shift in how we view ourselves and others.
Instead of being more tolerant of each other, we seem to have gone in the opposite direction. We are more judgmental, more opinionated, and to be honest, so much less tolerable of people that do not agree with us or believe what we believe.
The problem, is that we are simply projecting our inner anger, fear, beliefs, and opinions onto everyone else. It is so much easier to make our issues about other people, instead of taking 100% responsibility for ourselves. If we did own our stuff, we would realize that we need to change instead of us, trying to change the world and everyone in it!
We Don’t Know
The truth is we really don’t know what is going on in another person’s world. We don’t know what they’ve experienced in their past. We don’t have a clue about what they’re experiencing now, their mental capacity, what they think, or their background. We don’t understand whether they have suffered some type of abuse, are a veteran with PTSD, or are developmentally challenged, in some way.
And yet, we easily jump to conclusions and judge them for not doing what we think they should. Why? Because it doesn’t meet our standards or align with our values and our beliefs.
Regroup, Re-frame, & Step Back
In times like this, I find myself needing to regroup, re-frame and step back. As hard as it is, I have to say to myself: “At this exact moment in time, they are doing the best they can with what they have.”
Some folks may disagree, and for those of you who do, know this: You can never, ever know what is going on inside the mind of anyone else. You can only project your own inner thoughts and beliefs onto them.
Besides, is what other people do really any of our business? Sure, you can play the family card and say, “I know what’s best for my kids, my wife, parents, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah…” But I’m talking about the situations where you are judging others and want to correct or change them. Of course, it’s for the better in your eyes!
Someday That Person May Be You
Here’s what I know…someday you are going to be much older than you are today. At that point in your life, you will not hear as well, you will move slower, think slower, and forget things. You will repeat stories over and over. You will eventually need help to do the things that you used to do by yourself from the time you were 3 years old.
You will have good days and you will have days when you feel like you can’t do anything right!
You will have had experiences in life that may have altered your abilities, mentally or physically. And what you could do so easily the day before will seem impossible!
And on those not so good days, you will hope and pray that the people around you, see you as someone who in that exact moment in time…is doing their very best!
Judging Others & Projection: Final Thoughts
Let me leave you with a few final thoughts…
- What you put out there is what you get back…eventually (In other words, karma can be a sheep or a bear). Judge others and you too shall be judged.
- Your best is not the same as everyone else’s, so stop pretending that it is. There will always be people who do things differently from you, that doesn’t make you better than them!
- Stop pretending that you know what’s best for everyone else or that everyone wants to be…just like you!
And as Forrest Gump would say, “And that’s all I have to say about tha-aaaat!”
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