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Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. —Plato
Have you ever been around a person who never seems to have a kind word for anyone? No matter the situation, they will be critical. No matter the person, they will find fault. Criticism and judgment seems to come as naturally to them as breathing.
Perhaps that person has even been you.
I know it’s been me. The reality is that it is often hard to go very long without making an assumption about someone.
- That guy who just cut you off on the freeway? Jerk.
- That pretty wife of an older husband? Gold digger.
- That homeless man with the cardboard sign on the corner? Druggie.
- That church member you don’t get along with? Hypocrite.
- That teacher who just gave your child a D? Mean.
- That friend who just blew you off? Self-absorbed.
We often unthinkingly assume the worst of the people we come across, whether they be complete strangers or those closest to us. How easily we can condemn for even the smallest of offenses. We see the world through judgment-colored lenses.
But if we really stop to think about it, we realize that our tendency to criticize everything and everyone is little more than a defense mechanism, a simple way to avoid having to actually connect with the people around us. Giving people the benefit of the doubt means we might actually have to become just a little bit vulnerable.
And being vulnerable is awfully scary sometimes.
Do it anyway. Vow to trade your critical eye for one of kindness and compassion and instead. Let go of preconceived judgments, and when you find yourself assuming the worst, make an effort to consider a less condemning alternative. The truth is that we never really know what is behind the facade, or what battle that person might be fighting behind closed doors. Step into that other person’s shoes and walk around awhile. You might just be amazed at how different the world begins to look.
Be sure to read Edie’s corresponding post, More Acceptance.
Think of someone you have perhaps been unfairly critical of or judgmental towards recently. What assumptions did you make about them and their situation? Now think of a time where someone else has either judged you unfairly or given you the benefit of the doubt. How did you feel? What is something you could do today to show compassion to someone in your life? Share your experiences in the comments below or on Facebook.
Finally, be sure to check out Crystal’s great insight on Less Anxiety/More Rest from yesterday’s post.
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Have you ever been unfairly judged? How did it make you feel? Do you struggle with being critical or judgmental of others?