Thursday, June 13, 2013

Everyone is Awesome and I Shouldn't Judge Them

Back in January, I wrote this post about building empathy with people. I talked about how keeping a mantra in mind, such as 'I love you, man' really made it easier to care about other people. This worked particularly well for strangers I just met, people I didn't know at all.

Earlier this week I had another thought that I think builds on this idea. If I love someone, a friend or a relative for example, I wouldn't judge them based on their appearance. If they looked good, I was happy for them. I've noticed that sometimes, when I see another person who's appearance is different from mine, I confess I've had thoughts of either judgement or jealousy. Instead of looking past what I was seeing (which is what I would do if I truly loved them, as a friend or a relative) I would be focusing on it.

This never happens with friends or relatives; just with people I don't know. People walking down the street or strangers at a party. For friends or relatives, I don't immediately judge them. I simply note it and move on, because I love them.


Of course, now that I see the behavior I'm trying to fix it. For the last week I've been consciously attempting to not judge people I don't know based on their appearance. I'm using two different 'tools' to accomplish this.


Tool #1 - Simpler; I don't talk about what a person is wearing.

When meeting a stranger, the way a person looks can tell you a lot about them. I'm looking at what they wear, their weight, their skin color, their apparent gender, their clothing appearance (shabby or pressed), their jewelry. I look. In the past, I have even used what a person is wearing to open up a conversation with "Oh, what a lovely necklace". I'm consciously trying to stop all of that by opening up every conversation with something NOT related to their looks.

It's hard but it seems to be working - it helps me to focus on what the person introducing us is saying like, "oh, have you met Bob, he's my friend from Georgia." or "Hi I'm Pamela I'm here with Manny from the city." By staying focused on them as a person and not on what they are wearing (good or bad), I can distract myself from looking at and therefore thinking about their appearance.

Here's a great article I read recently on an example of this, talking about approaching little girls and NOT immediately complimenting them on how cute they are.

Tool #2 - Focus on how amazing the person is.

Everyone, all people in this world (no matter how fantastic their life is) are facing some kind of challenge in their lives. We all hurt. Also, we all are reminded regularly how much pain and suffering there is in this world. I find it amazing that each day we can put that all aside and live, and survive, and even thrive. I look at everyone and think that we are all just awesome people for managing this crazy thing we call life. We are all finding ways to meet challenges - from the horrors of war to the challenges of just getting out of bed in the morning.

You are amazing. Yes you, the person reading this blog post. You are awesome!

Just for you being you - it's TIME TO DANCE!!!

1 comment:

susan thom said...

one of the things I've had to work on is being quiet and not interrupting when someone is talking. I'm pretty good at it now, but i used to be terrible at it. it's so much better when the person you are talking to listens without interruption until you are through talking.
when i said in a previous post that i surround myself with people who believe like me, i meant for the most part, we still have our discussions about things we see differently on, but we believe in the fundamental basics, such as spirituality and non judgmental ism and compassion. there was a time when i enjoyed a good debate, but i have mellowed, and would rather get along with the person i am talking to.
what one wears, or the tattoos they have, or the piercings, or the clothes, doesn't bother me. it doesn't factor into whether or not i like that person.i saw a young girl at the doctor's office today who was bald, and i assume had cancer, and had a tattoo on her head. this girl is going through enough, am i going to pick on her because she has ink on her head? no! we all need to be more open and friendly with those we meet. and we'll feel better for it.