• Danelle Siegel

Tolerance

By Danelle Siegel, contributor

A beautiful young girl (Sally) walks into a bar on the arm of a handsome man (Bob). All eyes are on them.


Let's pretend we can read thoughts...


Tommy sitting at the bar, a scruffy guy down on his luck, is thinking, "ugh, I can't believe I am doing so poorly. I can't hold down a job and this guy looks like a million bucks. I remember when I was young and looked like a million bucks.


Stacey sitting at a table across from her also single friend in her 40s, both pretty but not gorgeous. Stacey is thinking "her looks are so fake. She obviously had work done. Geez, how does that guy even sleep with her she is so skinny and he's so muscular. He would crush her." Her friend Cathy sitting across from her is thinking, "I want something real, not like those two. Look at how she is hanging on him like she is insecure or something. He's so controlling, obviously."


Over by the pool table there is Jim (an overweight wealthy man), Nancy (a wealthy slim young lady married to Arti) and Arti (a workaholic, nothing really special to look at). They look up from their game. Jim is thinking, "she's for sure only with him because he's good-looking. If I had time, I could look like that too." Nancy is thinking, "he totally owns her and doesn't really care about her. I bet when they get home they aren't all over each other like that. Eww, get a room." Arti is thinking, "I wanna hit that. I hope Nancy didn't see me looking, she gets so annoying and I don't want to deal with that."


Everyone is inherently selfish!


When we see anything, we internalize and personalize it. We practice sympathy in a weird way. People have been conditioned to think of themselves and call it “self-preservation.” Training starts at a young age. When our parents compare us to our siblings or tell us what we need to improve based on what we see around us or even worse when magazines/society tell us how pretty/ smart/ wealthy etc. we "should" be... we learn to base our self-satisfaction against others. The worst is when you're made to believe you will amount to less than what you're capable of because of your gender/ race/ location/ religion etc.


Not only do we compare, but we learn to judge without any facts because that's what we felt was happening to us so it's all we know. My favorite saying is, “you represent what you present.” I tell all my staff while you’re in my uniform, you will act with respect for my company. It's human nature only because we have conditioned ourselves to be this way. It doesn't make it OK.


As long as we are comparing and judging, we will never be able to truly internalize empathy. This is important because of the fact that life is hard and when we lack empathy for others it just makes life harder... on ourselves and no one else. If I look at a beautiful skinny girl in her 20s and I start comparing myself, I'm miserable! If instead I appreciated her beauty and youth and didn't compare myself or apply my own insecurities I wouldn't feel so bad about myself. On the flip side, it's a great excuse not to make positive changes in our own lives because the fault is on the other person.


I find when I see someone that I think looks better than me or is in a better position than I am, I like to find something to compliment them on. It helps to quiet the voice in my head that was conditioned to judge. Don't get me wrong, if someone is rude or obnoxious just keep moving along. There is something wrong with them, not you. Something made them that way at some point and this exercise is to help you not to fix others.


Let's take a look at what Sally and Bob are thinking. Bob, holding onto Sally, is thinking, "I know she is weak from the chemo; I really hope she doesn't fall. The doctor said this might happen. I feel terrible for bringing her out, but she insisted. Everyone must think I'm a terrible husband dragging my sick wife out." Sally is thinking, "I'm not sure how many more good days I have left. I really want Bob to enjoy tonight and not feel like he needs to take care of me. I feel like such a burden. He's been so great; I hope he finds love again once I'm gone."


Had anyone in that bar taken even five seconds to not judge or compare, maybe they would have acted with empathy. Maybe they would have taken time to speak to them and made a new friend?! Or, at the very least, heard all about Sally's military days as a spy and enjoyed her stories?! Or Bob's tales of traveling around the world and visiting all the amazing places?!


No one knows what someone brings to the table until they sit down at the same table.


It may not have been our doing, but it is our responsibility to fix what's wrong. In order to do that we need to recognize what's really bothering us when we judge others. Psychologists will tell you that what you don't like in others is typically what you really don't like in yourself. Armed with that truth, it should be easier to fix ourselves instead of judging others in such a harsh way.


Try this: the next time you have negative thoughts about someone else without even knowing them, write down the topics of those thoughts. When you go home, look in the mirror and ask yourself how you feel about yourself regarding those topics. It's not easy to change for the better but the first step is recognizing a change is needed.


Self-Proclaimed Nice Guy


[Note: Our bloggers are independent writers with their own constitutionally granted opinions, viewpoints, interpretations, and feelings. Their views do not always represent that of American Reveille LLC. Regardless, we support their right to free speech and a medium to express it! Got a problem with that? Go somewhere else!]


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