It’s easy for us to look at someone else and judge what they are doing or how they are handling something. We are merely looking at a snapshot of their actions and not at what may have happened before or what they are feeling, or many other variables that led them to where they are or what they did.
When we make judgments about people, it says more about who we are than who they are. Many people feel more comfortable judging people in black and white. It’s safer that way and more defined. But humans are a million shades of grey.
How do you overcome the knee-jerk response of making a snap judgment? By practicing empathy. Do you know all of person’s experiences? Do you know what they want? Do know what challenges they have or what’s keeping them up at night? You can’t possibly know everything about them, but if you think about what their experience might be like, how it must feel to deal with X or whatever it is, you can re-frame the situation and better understand their actions. Their actions become more relatable.
When you really understand someone else’s motivations and mindset, their actions will make much more sense. You will start to notice that their actions are consistent with their character. Say you have a friend or relative whose behavior you simply just don’t agree is the right course of action. By asking them their motivations and feelings and yourself in their shoes, you can get a better grasp on why they would choose that course of action. As a result you can support them without necessarily agreeing with their choices.