Saturday, 1 March 2014


If you want a challenge this week, I have one for you.

When you find yourself criticizing, judging, or disapproving of somebody, ask yourself why, and keep asking why.

One of the things most of us try to do is to be polite. Good manners help the world go round, so we learn not to criticize other people. This can get quite complicated - I'm sure you've heard of somebody criticizing another for being critical. But generally we think before we speak. Some are better at it than others.

But our thoughts are another matter, they are our own business. So far we don't have the technology to read a person's thoughts, and even the simplest test - the lie detector - has been trashed as unreliable.

So we are quite free to think whatever we like. He's a fool. She's lying. We don't say it out loud, and we try to keep the expressions on our faces more in line with our words than our thoughts.

Therefore the only person who has any control over what goes on inside my head is me. I am mindful of this:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

You may argue that we are all used to keeping a tight reign on our thoughts, so we don't blurt them out, but that's not what it means. What we are thinking affects our behaviour when our words are insincere. 

I encourage tact, but I don't think it's enough. When you are constantly speaking dishonestly because your thoughts are very harsh and negative, a real conflict builds up. It leads to outbursts, and then........


What is inside a person's head will eventually spill out. One way or another.

So, a person who cares, who gives a damn about their character, and their role in society doesn't just keep their thoughts to themselves, they work on those thoughts. 

I remember standing in line in Homesense one day with a pepper grinder, and a couple in front of me had spent an awful lot of money on what I considered to be really frivolous purchases. They were dressed as if they were expecting to be photographed, and they were very loud. In my head I said "spoiled yuppies". And I wondered what made them tick. What their values were. I felt very negative about these people, despite the obvious fact that they were not doing me any harm at all, and I knew nothing about them. That's wrong

And it bothered me. What the hell was I doing judging people that way? I sat myself down and reminded myself that around the world are plenty of people who have to grind their pepper with two stones, and that's assuming they can afford pepper. To whom my mode of dress and ability to shop in malls would be seen as the lap of luxury. I managed to humble myself, but the experience stuck with me. 

There are lots of other examples I could offer you, the usual one is:

Do not judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes.

There are plenty of variations on that, the idea being that you don't know what causes a person to do what they do.

And this is why I invite you to ask yourself why. Why am I being harsh on that person? I know damn well there could be a good reason for his choices or his behaviour. I am not privy to that reason, but I am in full control of my own reaction to it all. Why does it bother me that he does that? It's not hurting me, why do I even care? 

Essentially what we do is poke our noses in. Even if we never say a word. There has to be a reason why we do that, and I happen to think it's really very useful to examine the reason behind it. It may not be pretty, but I think it's worth doing.

1 comment:

  1. "Do not judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes."

    By then you're 1.603 kilometres away from him and you have his shoes :D