Is every day judgement day?
“We live our lives supposing things are as they appear to be when that is almost never the case.”― Richelle E. Goodrich, Slaying Dragons
At 5 am today, with the morning dew, fresh on the grass where I sat, I was feeling a bit playful. So I decided to get on the swing right next to me. As I embraced the joying of swinging to and fro, and the inner child in me ecstatic to revisit an old emotion once again, I noticed my security guard giving me the looks. This got me thinking…
I always wondered whether our judgement of other people is justified. Is it possible for us to truly know how another person is within the first few minutes of us meeting them? We often draw conclusions of a person’s personality based on our experiences with that person. For example, I’m generally a very enthusiastic person when I’m with my group of friends. But, there are times when I like to sit quietly even with the same lot around. In such a situation, people tend to assume that something is wrong, wherein the actual reality is that I’m actually quite delighted and peaceful. The contradiction in this situation is that the human mind is unable to comprehend the possibility of a person being happy, sad, energetic, calm, short-tempered, patient, selfish and selfless all-in-one. We get some form of closure from having clear definitions or ‘tags’ for the people we meet. Tags that do not contradict one another or labels that aren’t opposites, so as to fit our ‘judgement-OCD’ perfectly. This is because we subconsciously always disregard a crucial factor when considering human behaviour, context.
Psychologist Walter Mischel says that the human mind is like a “reducing valve”, we choose to stick to our initial notions even if provided with new evidence. He explains this concept with an example:
” When we observe a woman who seems hostile and fiercely independent some of the time but passive, dependent and feminine on other occasions, our reductive valve usually makes us choose between the two syndromes. We decide that one pattern is in the service of the other, or that both are in the service of a third motive. She really must be a castrating lady with a façade of passivity – or perhaps she is a warm, passive-dependent woman with a surface defence of aggressiveness. But perhaps nature is bigger than our concepts and it is possible for the lady to be a hostile, fiercely independent, passive, dependent, feminine, aggressive, warm, castrating person all-in-one. Of course, which of these she is at any particular moment would not be random or capricious – it would depend on who she is with, when, how, and much, much more. But each of these aspects of her self may be a quite good and real aspect of her total being.”
So can you be selfish and selfless as well? Isn’t it dependent on the context, situation or people involved in the scenario?
Although you may have an ‘opinion’ of the person’s character, you must not make your own judgement without considering the factor of context. So, the next time you observe someone behave in an unflattering way, ask yourself for a second if it could be the situation that compels them to be that way before you decide to brand their behaviour as a ‘Prime characteristic’. I believe this process of not being judgemental based on your first impression can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. It’s like the old saying goes, “Never judge a book by its cover.” Unless it’s an ‘Archie’s comic book’, because how else would you know, right?
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