Look out! – for potential…
We are so quick to judge each other. We’re always keeping an eye on the things that others are doing wrong, or even worse, ways in which there must be something wrong with them.
Many of us don’t even notice that this can be the lens through which we see the world. It happens in our private lives and on a societal level. If we don’t understand or can’t relate, then we very often judge an action or the person as wrong.
Recently I have come in contact with several people in treatment in a psychiatric ward. These are people that often feel very misunderstood, and who have diagnoses which constantly remind them and everyone else that there is something wrong with them. As a society, we judge more and more people as being wrong. If other people are acting differently there must be something wrong with them, and in our minds, we’re asking, “What is the matter with you?”
In doing this work, it has been amazing to see and experience what potential there is just below the surface – once I and others start looking for it. Here I am not talking about ignoring difficulties, but instead I am referring to how big of a difference it makes when we start looking for the potential in people and lives where it seems almost impossible to see.
So, what if we started looking for what is right in all the people we meet: their contribution and their potential?
It changes everything. Not only will it make you feel better and change any relationship – it also gives you the opportunity to shed light on the good that the other person is contributing with. In turn that will help the other person grow.
Many believe the private thoughts and judgments they have are not anything the people around them will notice. But a covert negative judgement of something or someone will change your attention, attitude and behavior in subtle ways, often without you even noticing. In other words, if you are judging and/or discussing these judgments with others, it will show!
If you look – really look – it is possible to see the contribution and potential in all the people you meet on your way. We need to start seeing the good in each other and start being on the outlook for all the untapped potential out there. If we start out with this perspective we will stop stigmatizing each other and we will instead help each other grow.
So… next time you judge another person negatively, I encourage you to look for the potential and start shedding light on their contributions instead. I know it will set both you and the people you meet free to reach out for the best possible version of themselves.
How to get started
- Observe your thoughts on judging other people – When, how often, and with whom does it take place?
- Pick one person that you are judging negatively and practice looking for their potential and contribution rather than what they are doing wrong.
- Slowly incorporate more and more of your relationships in this experiment.
- Very often judging others is mirror of how you judge yourself. Thus, you can include and observation of how you judge yourself and start the same process: Look for contributions and potential.
I hope you will increase your search for potential all around you