A lot of people seem too complicated to understand. We are all full of different ingredients and make up various flavors. We find ourselves connecting with others who are often familiar enough but different enough to stir something inside us—it could be admiration, mystery, old wounds, you name it. We are all here to connect with others and enrich these connections in a way that could allow us to move forward in life. That would be the ideal case, and it is inevitable that we are going to feel disappointed, hurt, and shocked as we confide in others and let them in our circles.
Humans are not actors in our movies. They are unpredictable, but they are also very predictable. If we learn to be observant and to listen to those in front of us very carefully, we can do 50% of the work of aiming to understand someone, and it will save us the hassle of dissatisfaction and dismay. Throughout my life, I have made the grave mistake of making excuses for people who didn’t deserve it and projecting onto them qualities they didn’t possess.
Your perception of someone is a lot of stories you make about them in your head, the good and the bad. You can put someone on a pedestal or look down on them based on a series of what you tell yourself. The truth, though, is probably something entirely different. We tend to fill many gaps we know nothing about based on how we feel about someone.
For example, you see someone who smiles in your face or who pets a dog, and then you immediately decide that they must be sweet and kind and patient, but the truth is you’re just projecting an idea. You have no idea if they actually possess these qualities. You could predict that this person will turn out to be like that, but you should only believe so when it is proven. If we learn to only give people credit for what they earn bit by bit, then we could save ourselves the disappointment of them failing to meet our expectations or us claiming they changed or that they weren’t who we thought they were.
Believe what people tell you, even when it sounds too hard to bear and even if you don’t want to believe it. When someone tells you about their dark side, it is often related to a part of them. Don’t dismiss their body language or their tone . Whether that ends up bothering you or changing your idea of them is something else, but do not dismiss what they say and do not dismiss what they do. If someone claims to be overly jealous or that they have a bad temper, it is probably true.
I find that the more you make excuses for people, the more cognitive dissonance you start to feel because the excuses end up not being real. Don’t overcompensate for others. People should be able to show up and explain themselves. They are responsible for handling themselves. You are not here to clean their slate for them. When you do clean their slate, it is often for you, because accepting the real reason is often more painful. What I am saying especially applies when you are getting to know someone new. People show us who they are all the time; if we dare to believe them and if we dare to value ourselves and detach from anyone who will cause us harm, then we are doing ourselves a favor. Start saving your time and effort.