We are often quick to assess and judge people or experiences. And often times, it’s not the present YOU that is assessing the moment, but rather it’s your past. When you meet someone for the first time or visit a place (whether you realize it or not), your brain is quickly scanning the situation and connecting it to a past experience. You may meet a person for the first time, yet your brain is telling you who the person sounds like, looks like, or reminds you of. Or you step foot into a new city where you’ve never been and your brain starts triggering familiar looking buildings, cars or scenery, and automatically forms an opinion. I notice this more and more with each new place I step foot in!
While this is human nature, it’s what we do with that information that matters. You can take in the moment, allow the assessment, remind yourself this is a new experience or a new person, and set it free. Or you can attach yourself to those memories and experiences, trigger old feelings and put your protective walls in place. After all, that person broke your heart or hurt your feelings, so you’re much safer guarding yourself and assuming this new person will be the same.
What if rather than writing someone off or allowing your past experiences to project how something is going to go, you take a chance and allow yourself to be open to exploring it. Do you give others the benefit of the doubt or allow new experiences to be just that…new?
Give others the chance to rise to the occasion. There are some people who have a gift at seeing potential and providing space for someone to step into their own. When I went arrived to Thailand in May, I had set an intention for my journey to reset, surrender, and heal. I had just left a career and company of nearly 11 years. I told myself I was going to give myself time to reset before jumping into anything new. I ended up meeting my now business partner and coach, Brook Woolf. Soon after meeting Brook, I got incredibly sick. I was used to being in a corporate/work, work, work mindset and still tried to meet and work. She immediately told me to take care of myself and not work until I was ready. I was afraid that by not making a good first impression, she would not want to work with me. But she saw more in me from the beginning, and has been incredibly patient during this process of navigating this new nomad/work lifestyle. And she has given me numerous chances. Had she taken me based off of our first work encounter, I would likely not still be working with her.
Try something new, and if you fall, get back up and try again. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try Acro-Yoga. You get all excited and go to your first class. While in class you get dropped on the ground and fall flat on your back. You could easily decide to throw in the towel and say, “Oh well. At least I tried.” or “I’m never doing that again!” Or you could get back up and give it another shot. This actually happened to me during my first class in Portland. I fell flat on my back! And I got back up and tried again. I can’t say acro-yoga is my sport, yet I’m glad I gave it a shot and tried more than once before writing it off completely.
Don’t judge a person based on a bad hair day. Everyone has bad days. So why do we so quickly dismiss them and not give them any grace? Often in our culture we (myself included) judge people based on their looks or demeanor. I for one don’t put any effort into fixing or washing my hair when I’m upset or having a not so great day. One look at me and you think...what is going on with this girl?? A server at a restaurant could be having a really bad day; maybe he/she got in an argument prior to coming or had to leave a sick child at home and come to work. It could be obvious they don’t want to be there and so the service is under par. Many people write them off immediately and say they’re not going to tip them for how they’re acting. I always try and give them the benefit of the doubt, and remind myself that I too have bad (hair) days, and tip regardless of how they acted or treated me.
Get to know someone or something first before forming an opinion. Do you ever meet someone and automatically write them off and conclude that you’re not meant to be friends, lovers, or work together? Perhaps they do something that gets on your nerves or they slip up and make a mistake. Are you so quick to dismiss them based on one annoyance or mistake? I do believe in tapping into your intuition when you’re in a new space or meeting someone for the first time. Energetically some people and places are just not compatible. However, if you’re dismissing a person or place based on one mishap or annoyance, you could be short-changing yourself and the other person.
If you’ve tried before, maybe it’s time to try again. I recently had a gourmet Yucatan meal in Merida, Mexico. One thing to know about me is that I don’t like cheese. I never have my entire life and likely won’t. [INSERT ALL OPINIONS YOU’VE AUTOMATICALLY FORMED ABOUT ME HERE] At this restaurant, I ordered this traditional Mayan Pib-Cooked Pumpkin dish. Basically they cut the pumpkin into quarters and cook it over hot coals on the ground. When they brought it to the table, it looked so delicious! I couldn’t wait to dive in and try it. And then they opened this bowl and a bunch of cold smoke poured out. They reached a large spoon in and began to spoon goat cheese frozen in liquid nitrogen all over the pumpkin! I had two choices in this instance—I could either tell them I don’t eat cheese (especially not goat cheese) and send it back, or step out of my comfort zone and give it a second chance. I opted for the latter. I tried the dish (goat cheese and all). I still concluded that I just don’t like cheese, yet wanted to give it another shot and see if anything had changed. This may seem minor, yet I was proud of myself for at least trying.
Remember, we’re all working on or chasing something. Everyone goes through low seasons in life as well as high. I’ve been on a transformational journey for a solid 2 years now. With that comes lots of ups and downs. I continue to push myself and grow. Who I am today is not who I was 6 months ago, let alone 2 years. I read the opening quote—"Do not judge my life by the chapter you're walking in on...I'm still writing”—in an Instagram post and it completely struck me. It reminds me that where I am and where you are is the exact place you’re meant to be. You are whole and complete in this exact moment. We’re all writing our own stories.
Wherever you are in life, I hope you will remind yourself of all that it took for you to get where are you. Consider this moment to be the exact moment where you are meant to be. And remember the same of others. Give others the chance to rise to the occasion. Allow them to show you who they are before quickly assuming you already know. And when you try a new experience or step foot in a new city, give it some time before concluding whether or not you like it.