You are in your car, and someone comes up behind you speeding and tailgating.
You are stuck behind a person in the self-checkout line who is not paying attention when it is their turn.
You get in line at a drive-thru and the person in front of you is ordering items for what seems like 50 people.
We are all familiar with these people.
We make quick judgments and assumptions about them, and usually not great things. We assume they are not paying attention and maybe judge them as being so self-absorbed they don’t notice anyone around them.
We judge them as being ‘jerks’ based on a 5-second interaction with them.
We get worked up and mad and frustrated at these people. Sometimes, they even ruin our morning/afternoon/day.
The person tailgating and speeding. That person was once me. Little E had just taken a massive fall and I was rushing to the urgent care on what felt like the longest drive of my life.
The person at the supermarket not paying attention in the self-checkout line when it is their turn. That person was once me. Little E had been up four times the night before which resulted in Mr. Blographer and I each getting about 3 hours of broken sleep. I had worked all day but had to stop at the store to pick up some items.
The person in front of you at the drive-thru (or inside the restaurant) ordering items for what seems like 50 people. That person was once me. I was just starting my first ‘real’ job out of college, and it was my turn to pick up coffee for everyone. I wanted everything to be perfect. Yes, I was slow. But I was nervous and wanted to get the order right. I wanted to make a good impression.
I know you probably don’t ‘know me’, but I don’t consider myself a jerk, selfish, or unaware. I write a blog about living a mindful and intentional life. I love helping people. I consider myself empathetic to the point where I sometimes physically hurt.
Those people, the people above, myself included, are human.
Does it make their actions OK? Not necessarily, no. Am I saying we should just excuse these actions? No. And if people are put in dangerous situations because of an action, that is obviously NOT OK either. I am not talking about extreme cases here. I am talking about day-to-day interactions.
It is time to stop labeling, judging and assuming the people we come across that are doing things we don’t think they should be doing as terrible, idiotic, jerky people. If not for them, then for your own mindset. And you know what? Maybe some of them are exactly what you think. And maybe the person tailgating you simply is just a jerk. But…
What do you have to gain from their negativity or reacting negatively?
Here is what I propose as a solution:
Instead of always thinking the worst of people, let’s ASSUME and JUDGE them as being good people who are in tough situations or having a bad day. Let’s kill them with kindness even though they may not ‘deserve’ it. Let’s ignore them instead of reacting. Your time and energy are too precious to spend getting worked up about them.
Once I started focusing on this mindset of assuming the good in people instead of always assuming the worst, I discovered the following:
- I became much friendlier towards people
- I was a lot less stressed driving
- I had a much more positive mindset (and I consider myself pretty positive most of the time!)
- I felt much more carefree instead of getting worked up
- I was offering to help others more often
I often feel sad when I see others mention that ‘there still are good people in this world’. It is my belief that there are a lot more good people than we realize. If only we would stop assuming the worst about everyone (especially based on a few bad ones).
I want to show Little E that there are good people and that we all make mistakes because we are human. And I have been in those people’s shoes before. And I’m willing to bet so have you, even if you don’t know it.
So let’s move forward and show some compassion to ourselves and others. Let’s start assuming people are good but in hard times, even if it isn’t true. I can guarantee that this mind-shift will spill over into other parts of your life.