When other people’s behavior does not support our identity, our instinct is to believe that they’re either wrong, crazy, or both. Our judgmental axe is always ready to fall.
But we have to remember, it’s not about us. It’s rarely about us. In fact, if we knew just how infrequently other people’s behaviors ever had anything to do with us, we would be astonished.
Because when somebody cuts us off in traffic or knocks our shoulder on the subway or lashes out in the middle of a crowded restaurant, odds are, it’s not a personal attack. To immediately assume so is a form of narcissism.
And so, before we jump to judgment and start telling people how to live their lives, we should always assume people are fighting a battle that we know nothing about. We should always appreciate the fact that most of them are doing the best they can with the information they know to be true for them. And we should see people as they are, not as our filters would judge them.
One question I’m learning to ask myself more and more as I get older is:
How is it possible that this person could think or behave in this way, and under what circumstances would it make perfect sense to do so?
This question helps deepen my empathy and compassion and understanding about the other person’s experience. Because it’s rooted in curiosity. It disrupts my own point of view. And it presumes that there might be something outside of my own experience that I don’t have eyes to see yet.
Drop the storyline. It’s not about us. It’s rarely about us.
LET ME ASK YA THIS...How does your narcissism block your empathy?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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