Nobody tells a story about how they’ve always been the same.
Our narratives have a strong psychological power over us… but we can change our stories, thereby changing ourselves. To easily recognize some of our own stories, just look at how we interact with and categorize others.
When interacting with others, our brains create categories to sort incoming data. So when we first encounter someone, we instinctively sort them into one or more of these categories (i.e: race, sex, age) as we form how to understand and interact with them.
For instance, when you see an elderly woman, you may sort her into “old” and “woman” categories, and you’ll draw upon your understanding of what it means to be a woman and old, based on the the world around, your experiences and media… and you develop assumptions about her and how she interacts with the world.
Which brings us back to change. How do we change the way we look at or sort others? A good first step is to better develop our observational mind and acknowledging that your opinion is not fact… it’s just how you choose to see the world.
Observing before judging opens you up to more possibilities. And judging others actually affects you more than whoever your judging. It illustrates how you see the world, beginning with your preconceptions and biases.
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves" - Carl Jung
When you judge someone, it affects you and says more about you than the other person. It shows how you perceive the world. It brings your pre-conceptions to the surface.
This is where curiosity comes in. Instead of judging, observe and be curious. Try to learn more information and then pause in the gap between observation and conclusion. Ask yourself questions - challenge whether your preconceived notions are knowledge based, about your values, your limited view of the world, your biases… or even emotional feelings like jealousy may play a role.
Finding out why you are prematurely judging will help turn things around and lead to more realistic and positive outcomes. This isn’t about wrong or right, it’s about how you see and show up in the world… and when you stop judging, you’ll stop caring about what other people think about you… which feels pretty darn good.