Even as a child I found social interactions confusing, often I would find myself unsure of how to act or react so I would sit quietly watching the interactions of others, often feeling like an outsider to the species (figuratively), if you will.
I have come to the long standing conclusion that often what we fear, what we hate in ourselves is what we hate in others. I know not a very profound statement considering this has been a belief long held by psychologists. But even my untrained eye can see what is right in front of it. I will give an example.
I was following an interaction on a politically fueled discussion in regards to an argument of Liberals vs Conservatives. It was a short lived argument because the Liberal decided not to engage (something I wish I had the strength of foresight to do often). The Liberal minded person made a statement (something I wont mention because I feel it will distract from the topic at hand), and the conservative persons response was as follows:
“You stupid ‘Libtard’ you are so uneducated are you a high school droup oute, or go to some libtard college?”
And that was where the altercation ended. I did find it fascinating that the conservative minded person was angry, because they believed that the Liberally minded person was uneducated, yet themselves could not properly use punctuation marks, real words, or correctly spell the most basic of words. I don’t mention this to insult, I know my own punctuation can be lacking due to thoughts streaming out into posts with little regard to editing, merely to point out the very thing he hated in the liberally minded person was what was true in his own heart.
I often find myself wondering if those who hate others for other various reasons also do so out of such fears. Hating those who are homosexual out of fear that they might be homosexual in their own hearts comes to mind.
1. When you catch yourself having a defining thought about someone, step back and ask, “What do I really know about this person?”
Often, the answer is a version of “not very much.” This behavior acts as a pattern interrupt, and forces you to stop and consider where the judgment is coming from.
2. When you hear yourself criticizing someone to others, stop and take a moment to come up with one thing you like about that person. Then praise them, out loud, for that quality.
This is another version of a pattern interrupt, and is also a reminder that they too are human, and like us all, have both attractive and not-so-attractive qualities.
3. When you find yourself in one of those incessant loop thought patterns of judgment about someone else’s behaviors, ask the hard question: Do I myself exhibit this same behavior or attitude that I judge in this person?
Almost always, the answer is yes (not that one always comes to that yes easily). You probably already know that the stuff that irritates us the most about others tends to be attributes we don’t necessarily realize we ourselves have. This was the single most difficult tool I used. It was also probably the most effective.
“Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” -Buddha
“By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.” -Buddhaghosa Visuddhimagga IX, 23.