We all are guilty of judging a person based on looks or behaviour. This is almost a survival instinct that we humans have, but does it do more harm than good?
Let’s have a look at the definitions of judgement, misinterpretation and Stereotypes.
Judgement – The ability to make decisions or come to conclusions
Misinterpretation is the action of interpreting something wrongly.
A stereotype is a thought that can be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things. These thoughts or beliefs may or may not accurately reflect reality.
The common denominator of these definitions is having a pre-perceived notion, belief, idea of a person. Coming to a conclusion about an individual based on what we see on the outside.
Every person is multi dimensional , and every individual has their own unique story. We should learn not to judge people based on their outward appearance or based on the box societies puts them in.
Unfortunately some people just upon the sight of you, have written biographies of you on your behalf, narrated your history without getting the chance to know you.
Unfortunately, people are mostly misinterpreted or judged wrongly when they are in an environment that doesn’t have a lot of people of their kind. For example, an extrovert in the midst of introverts. They may think he or she is loud and just wants attention. Or a lady that dresses without being afraid to show off some skin amongst women who are modestly dressed.
We must come to terms with the fact that people of the same tribe are not all the same. People of the same race, religion, orientation, occupation, vocation are not all the same.
Just because Sarah is an extrovert doesn’t make her a loose person
Just because Michael is a shy and reticent person and doesn’t want to talk to anyone doesn’t necessarily mean he has something to hide, or is proud.
Just because Ada works in the entertainment industry doesn’t mean she must have prostituted her way through to her current position.
Just because Gerald is black man walking the streets at night doesn’t mean he is a criminal. He may be returning home to his family from a tiring odd hour shift.
Just because Yusuf is a devout muslim does not mean he is a terrorist.
Just because Amy is single at 40 doesn’t mean there is something wrong with her.
Just because Tobi is a stay-at-home dad, doesn’t mean he is too “lazy” to work.
Just because I have locs doesn’t mean I am irresponsible or dirty or smoke marijuana.
Just because Mary wears a straight wig doesn’t mean she isn’t happy with her natural hair. She may just feel adventurous to try a new look!
Just because Ima is making money from the oil industry doesn’t mean she’s into oil bunkery.
Just because Chidi drives the latest Range Rover (with special number plate) doesn’t mean he is a cocaine pusher or that EFCC is looking for him.
That being said, how can we consciously make an effort to stop judging other people?
1. Be Conscious and Mindful of your words. Although judgment is a natural instinct, try to catch yourself before you speak, or send that nasty email and do any potential harm. You can’t get your words back. Pause. See if you can understand where the person may be coming from. Try to rephrase your critical internal thought into a positive one, or at least a neutral one. After all, like that dog in the trap, we really don’t know the reasons for someone’s behavior.
2. Remember it’s not about you. When someone disagrees with us or somehow makes our life difficult, remember that it’s typically not about us. It may be about their pain or struggle. Why not give others the benefit of the doubt? “Never underestimate the pain of a person,” Will Smith said, “because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.”
3. Look for the good. This takes practice, as our minds naturally scan for the negative, but if we try, we can almost always find something good about another person.
4. Reframe your mind. When someone does something you don’t like, perhaps think of it as they are simply solving a problem in a different way than you would. Or maybe they have a different timetable than you do. This may help you be more open-minded and accepting of their behavior. We need to realise not everyone is the same. Some people sell kara (bean cake) to earn a living and make money. Other people farm to make money, some people are in the offices to make money, some people are into property development, why must the person in the office think that his job is the only noble way of successfully making money? Not every body will sell bean cake, not everybody will be landlords, not everyone will have a desk job. I do not have to do what you’re doing, just because you think it is noble and the only way to become successful.The Dalai Lama says: “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”
5. Educate yourself. When people do things that are annoying, they may have a hidden disability. For example, some people with poor social skills may have Asperger’s syndrome. So if someone’s invading your personal space (as someone with Asperger’s might), remember again, it’s not about you. Albert Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
6. Give the person the benefit of the doubt. Someone once told me, no one wakes up in the morning and says, “I think I’m going to be a jerk today.” Most of us do the best we can with the resources we have at the moment.
7. Feel good about yourself, and that will reflect on how you treat others. Brene´ Brown says: “If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because were using each other as a launching pad out of her own perceived deficiency.”
If you have any particular questions relating to this topic and need personal advice, feel free to send me an email : firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange a one-to-one counselling session.
Also, if you have any other thing you’d like to add that you feel people should know, type it in the comment section below and let’s have a discussion.
Stay blessed and be who you are, everyone else is taken!
a.k.a. Lady V Global