“Everyone has a story left untold, so never judge someone as if you know their entire life story because the truth is, you probably don’t.”
I am brought back to these simple, yet profound words of wisdom as I reflect on a BIG life lesson I recently learnt, while stuck in traffic. It still amazes me how the most profound life lessons come our way in the smallest of moments. I was driving my minivan and found myself behind a smaller car that was behind another bus. From my stance, I could see much clearer than the smaller car in front of me, just enough to judge that the road ahead was clear for us to bypass the bus. In spite of this, I couldn’t understand why we were still driving so slowly. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated as the smaller car just didn’t budge, especially because I was in a rush. Then we arrived at a red light and the smaller car turned left, leaving me behind the bus. I finally realized that there was actually no visibility behind this bus, enough to allow one to pass by! Even though I was the ‘taller’ car that could technically see more, my visibility had completely changed now that I found myself in the smaller car’s position.
I finally understood.
A blind spot is a space where we cannot see the full picture just yet. When we are confronted with blind spots, our mind tries to arrive at conclusions simply to make sense of what we don’t yet know.
The end result?
Disconnection, anger, frustration and bitterness, all based on the story we’ve created in our heads about somebody else and their actions.
This small incident taught me such a valuable life lesson which can be applied to almost every single relationship of ours. We can NEVER claim to fully understand somebody else’s situation, no matter how much ‘evidence’ we’ve gathered. Each individual acts based on their unique genetic makeup, personalities, history and circumstances. This means that even if somebody stands directly in your shoes, they’ll never come to see what you see. They’d come to view the situation based on who they are and how they perceive life and We ALL perceive life entirely differently.
Applied to our everyday lives, we then come to truly realize just how easily we judge others, based on our own blind spots preventing us from seeing the full picture. This robs us of understanding others and remaining curious about who they truly are, beneath all the assumptions we’ve already made about them in our minds. Sometimes we jump to conclusions based on our visibility and this affects our own mental health, simply because we assume why somebody is the way they are, with very limited evidence and facts presented to us about them.
The mind latches onto this and finds it particularly alluring to create an entire story out of just a few puzzle pieces. Take the media for example – Will Smith’s recent actions left us all speculating about who he is, his marriage and what his mental health is like, all based off a few actions at the Grammys. The truth is that we don’t know the full story and it is easier and more enticing to create a mental picture of what happened on stage, than to actually take a step back and admit that what we know likely makes up less than 5% of the entire truth.
Assumptions about others cause us much misery and leave us speculating and spending hours thinking about who people are and why they’ve made certain life choices, but it takes immense courage to remain curious and open to learning about another’s perspective and choices. It takes choosing to keep our hearts open, rather than living life through the filters of our minds. Curiosity builds connection and helps us deeply empathize with others, while the mind creates disconnect and rigid barriers, preventing us from loving and empathizing with others.
We’ve all been in positions where we were the ‘smaller car’ and we’ve all been in situations where we were the minivan and both are equally important in teaching us how to empathize, remain curious and have patience, as well as to remain true to ourselves and our choices and trust the path ahead of us, based on our perspective and unique worldview.
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