I always strive to be a better person everyday. I never shy away from opportunities for self-improvement whether through learning new subjects or just reading a good advice-column on human relationships. And human relationships is a complex subject. We like to think that a person’s maturity is tied to their age; the older you are, the wiser you are supposed to be. But that’s so far from reality. What is the yardstick by which I measure growth? One simple answer: it is the ability to reserve judgment of others. Growth has nothing to do with your age or your credentials. You could be a high-powered professional in your mid-30’s without having grown at all. All of us are tainted by inner prejudices, unfounded assumptions about our peers, co-workers and friends. At the root of our prejudices is a tendency to quickly pass judgment, sometimes without even knowing why we are so quick to dismiss others. It is a true sign of immaturity along the same lines as cliquey high school girls who only hang out with their like-minded peers. Sometimes, we are no better than these high school kids.
Have you ever had difficult co-workers? Or difficult classmates that would not show up for the critical assignments? I certainly did. To rationalize their behaviors, I was always quick to assume that they were either too lazy, too snobby or so incompetent that I wondered how they had made it this far. We rely on our judgment to help us rationalize the world with all its complex characters. We benefit from our intuition; and yes rapid judgment was likely a survival mechanism of our ancestors as they fought off forces of Mother Nature. In the modern world though, to quickly write off our neighbors may be a sign of immaturity. Seriously, are you really at any peace with yourself when you believe the world is against you? Or is it that the problem is your judgmental attitude toward others?
Have you wondered that everyone of us may be fighting an inner battle? This could be a mental battle or a physical battle. Or that the person who is giving you a hard time is battling their own vulnerability or a sense of insecurity? How well do you know everyone’s background (family or professional) in order to for you to arrive at any conclusion? I am somewhere between an optimist and a pessimist. The pessimist part of me believes that some people are just not worthy of the benefit of the doubt. The optimist part of me perfectly understands that everyone has a story. It is just that some people are more transparent while others are opaque. But everyone of them is carrying a past that has shaped them into who they are. And I am no different. As a person who has also struggled ( and is still struggling) with insecurity and plenty of self-doubt, I realize that the optimist side of me eventually won. I am far from a perfect person, so why do I have any right to pass judgment on others? Even in my 30’s, I am still learning to grow and be a better person than I was yesterday. It is hard to grow out of my old self but having taken this step – becoming less judgmental as I age, I also feel more at peace with myself.