Accepting people for who they are is a difficult task. Judging people is so much easier! Yet, what we all struggle to understand is how we are literally incapable of accurate judgment. Any judgment we make about any person is based upon incomplete information. We do not know of any one person’s educational opportunities, family background, or life experience, yet alone genetic code. All of these factors contribute to defining us as individuals and explaining our behavior. Only when we take all of these factors into consideration can we begin to truly understand the reason for a person’s behavior.
When we judge people, we project our past experiences of life onto our present reality. We make certain assumptions to help us gain some sense of understanding. At the same time, applying assumptions to the present is actually a matter of deceiving ourselves and preventing us from experiencing the truth of reality in the moment. Making assumptions about people prevents us from ever authentically knowing someone. Instead, we enslave ourselves to what we think we know based on the past.
The truth is that we can never really know someone. We are not omnipotent beings and therefore have no ability to be fully aware of the exact set of circumstances that define any one person. We cannot accurately judge another, and if the judgment is not accurate, then certainly we are better off not making any judgment at all – otherwise we are simply living a lie.
Freeing ourselves of judgment is a lifelong process, but it is most definitely worth the effort. If we remind ourselves that we are not omnipotent and do not in fact know the 6’4”, 250 pound white guy with a shaved head and tattoos all over his arms, which are only visible because he’s wearing a cut-off leather vest, then we might come to find out that his name is Jonathan and knows the location of several good vegetarian restaurants.
Jonathan is a real person I met on the streets of New York. I opened myself up to him specifically because I felt a part of me falsely judging him. I knew my judgment was wrong, but had to prove myself wrong by acting against the judgment. He turned out to be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
When we overcome our stereotypes through action, we free ourselves of the false judgments and allow ourselves to experience the truer nature of the world that exists only in the present. Next time you catch yourself judging someone, do yourself the favor and act against the judgment and reveal to yourself how all is much more beautiful than we might believe.