We have all been there. Someone says something and we immediately think of something negative. Someone glances a look and we think negative. We even hear we didn’t get invited and we think negative. These are all signs that we are making assumptions of other people. We are creating the story in our heads of who these people are. Well, today is the day you start taking a different approach.
I sit here and think of many of my relationships past, present, and future. Some good and some bad. I think of my relationships of those who are close to me and those who I know as little as a tabloid magazine. Those who really know me, I so appreciate them taking the time to look beyond my faults and love me anyway, and to the other… I hope that one day we get to know each other on a better level if possible.
I remember in my childhood and teenage years I moved around a lot because of my parent’s jobs. The new kid in town, I was overweight and quiet, and making friends was not easy for me. Those I befriend were the ones who didn’t make assumptions about me and accepted me despite my look or my strange air of mystery.
The fact that they were not the “popular crowd” was evident to me very well. I was always kind and gracious for their open-mindedness toward me. Even when we eventually parted ways, I was always grateful for their acceptance of me. It took several years before other kids really got to know me. Often, those I went to school with would reference that they didn’t think I was this “cool”. My personality or status didn’t change, but their perception of me did. I would laugh their comments off, but inside I would have to say that stung a little.
Here I was open, ready to be me, and people judged me for my looks or what they assumed I was like. In my mind, I felt that I accepted everyone and often went out of my way to make everyone feel welcomed, because I knew what it was like to be the new kid. I remember that my teacher would purposely put me next to the “socially awkward, disliked by many, weird kid”, because she knew I would not be mean or treat her unkindly.
How often now do we make assumptions about people? How often do we judge them by the small amount of time we spend with them? Maybe its time we stop assuming who they are, and actually get to know them. You may find that you are not so different after all.
PEOPLE ARE JUST PEOPLE
I often tell my children, “People are just people”, to get them to understand relationships. Acceptance among teens are highly valued, and sometimes it hard to see my kids struggle with the same pressures I once did. Truth be told, it really doesn’t matter. If we take the approach the mindset that people are just people, then the assumptions start to fade. Then we get to see people who also have been hurt, or afraid, or called the “socially awkward, disliked by many weird kid.” Most people just want two things…to be accepted for who they are and to belong.
Yet, we dismiss them for voicing their opinion. We rebuttal their ideas and values. We reject them because they don’t have the same background or social status. We even stop giving them the time of day because they choose to live in their selfish, self-absorbed life.
If we are ever to be a thriving community, we have to stop assuming that people are assuming the worst in you. We have to believe the best about them and that they are growing at a different rate than you. When we do, the world becomes a place of safety, and you and your neighbor begin to thrive.
Here are my antidotes.
- When you see someone who you may not know or even those you do. Stop assuming you know what they are like. To be honest, you do not know the heart or the intent of their heart. Keep this in mind when you see or talk to people. Most people are good and most people just want to be accepted and to belong.
- Realize you have not arrived either. Remember the golden rule, or the bible verse,” Treat others how you want to be treated.” Yeah… good rule of thumb. We often treat others how we are feeling inside. So assumptions are just as much with our insecurities as it is theirs. So, treat others with the trust and optimism you would want.
- View the world around you as good. It will become easier to not assume the worst in people when we stop listening to the other voices. Media, negative people, gossip, and slander all play a role in your beliefs toward people. Refuse to play into the negativity by choosing to believe that even though we hear the bad and the “worst case scenario”, the majority of people are good and want good things too.
Recently, I had a scenario where I felt people were assuming the worst about me. I will say, it really was hard. I had to forgive quickly, but then I had to do this. I had to choose to continue to believe the best about them, even though they did not believe the best about me. I chose to say, I don’t want to live my life in assumption of anyone else. I can not assume anything about them, if I don’t want them to assume anything about me.
So, here is my last thought before this is done. The way this starts is with you. You have to take the first step out of the world of assumptions. When you get that next comment, that next look, or that next “rejection”, choose to believe that you don’t know all the details. Choose to believe that regardless of their judgments, you will assume the best. Choose to know that both you and they are important in your roles in life. Maybe you won’t be best of friends, but maybe you will honor each other for what you both bring to the table.
The question I leave you…. What would your relationships look like if you did not assume you know the whole story and actually think the best about people?
This is how you cultivate your life.