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On Assumptions

December 1, 2018



Someone who just gets on your nerves for no reason. Their mere existence pisses you off. 🙁

or is there someone you dislike just a little? perhaps your roommate when he leaves couple of dishes dirty, perhaps your neighbour and her annoying children, or the other one with a hundred dogs.

I have noticed that when I dislike something about someone, I project that onto every area of their lives.

Every roommate I ever had, who did not clean properly, I’d instantly assume and link them to poor hygiene. I’d picture them flipping used underwear daily because I could not imagine they would ever do laundry, I’d also imagine them being annoying at work, under-performing and mediocre in their love life at best.

Funny eh? couple of dirty dishes and that’s where the mind goes!

The past few weeks have not been any different.

I found myself judging the people living couple of doors down the hallway.

Every day I would walk towards the elevator and look at their closed door. There was a single off-white and a bit yellowish, dirty sock stuck against the bottom corner of the door.

Every. Single. Day.

I wondered how they could be oblivious to this dirty piece of cloth being at the entrance of where they live? How dirty must they be?

Then one day, I saw one of them coming out the door and heading to the elevator too. She was evidently overweight. My mind again jumped into judgement “of course! can’t take care of their front door I can’t imagine they care much about what they eat and their health either. Look at the bag of fries she has on her hand.. I’m so happy I don’t eat fries. etc. etc. etc”

I’d put myself in a “moral” pedestal, looking down on this person’s life choices. Choices that I knew nothing about!

How crazy is that?

This went on through a few weeks. I’d walk down the hallway, see the dirty sock and roll my eyes and picture how bad their life could be. If I met them in the hall or the elevator, I’d start creating a terrible picture on my head of what they are like, what their apartment looks like, and so on.

Sometimes I’d catch myself judging them and go back to being mindful about the fact that I do not know anything about them.

Some other times, I’d just go on a mental flush of assumptions.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, as I walked down the hallway, I pictured the dirty yellowish sock was no longer there.

Thank god I thought!

At last they decided to clean up!

What I noticed, shocked me much more.

Without the sock there, the space between the door and the wall was a little too wide, making the wind from inside the unit constantly and loudly slam the door against the frame.

Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!

It sounded as if someone was vigorously beating the door against its frame.

What an idiot! (I thought to myself)

The reason the sock was there was to keep the door from bouncing and slamming endlessly because of the wind.

I had an instant insight about how what can be a horrific thing to us, may be someone else’s deliberate solution to something.

Other people’s dirty socks’ meaning depends 100% on the context and perspective.

And the truth is that most of the time we don’t really know.

All we have are the assumptions, ideas and judgements about what someone else’s life is like.

Yet in reality, things can be completely different.

The overweight person we judge may actually be facing a health complication that imbalances their hormones. The bitter neighbour who yells at her kids may be going through a delicate family situation. That slow walker on the street in front of you when you’re in a rush, may have a mobility challenge.

Whatever it is that we judge about someone else, it rarely is because they are inherent terrible, bad persons. There is always something underneath (good or bad, clearly).

The amazing thing is that we get to pick the light we shine on them

We get to choose whatever perspective we want.

The dirty, fat, smelly neighbours down the hallway

Or the resourceful, problem-solving people that they are

The beautiful thing is that, when choosing to see a less judgmental perspective, we transform our ability to relate and connect to that person.

Connection is impossible amidst judgement, because it creates distance.

Openness breeds closeness.

So I invite you to take a look at the people around you with dirty socks on their doors, and inquire that, perhaps, there is more to reality than you think.


PS: If you liked this, please share it! I believe we could all use more empathy and less judging 🙂