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John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
  Home  > Personal Wellness  > Judging Others - Getting Reactive

Judging Others - Getting Reactive

Instead of getting reactive when you make a mistake, take a deep breath and a metaphorical step back" from your behavior, if only by the slightest degree. Sometimes it helps to think of how you might advise another person in a similar situation. You've seen how easily a friend or relative has become twisted up with guilt and self-recrimination for something they've done. You've seen how painful this process becomes. You know that by equating their self-worth with their ability to do things perfectly, they are creating an unrealistic expectation that can never be fully realized.

Ask yourself if your fear of making a mistake is based on the hidden assumption that you are potentially perfect and that if you can just be careful enough, you will not fall from grace. Recognize the impossibility of such a goal. Determine to move forward in solving the problem in the best way you can in the moment, even if you still feel dissatisfied by your imperfect performance. Apologize if appropriate; own up to the truth as necessary; acknowledge your own essential goodness; move on.

But a "mistake" is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder I am not dealing with the facts. When I have listened to my mistakes I have grown. —Hugh Prather

There are probably an infinite number of ways in which to describe the same person, the same event. The description we choose betrays much about our attitudes and our appreciation of the person or scene. I describe the man I don't know or care about as "the ugly fat guy." To his friend, he is the one in the blue jogging outfit or the heavyset one with glasses.

Listen to yourself describe things and people to yourself and others. If you find you are expressing judgments, you might want to plug in a more objective (perhaps kind and compassionate) description. While you're at it, try applying this to descriptions of yourself as well.

<< Previous Owning Our Mistakes | Back to Communicating | Next >> Active Listening Skills
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