Ironically, when we judge others, we are really judging ourselves. Our harsh comments or thoughts are more often a reflection of our own issues than someone else’s. But, learning how to change automatic negative thoughts that we have towards others, and ourselves, is often easier said than done. There are a few things you can try to learn new habits of acceptance and appreciation.
Find at least one thing you like about each person you meet or know. Although you may still have an initial negative thought about someone, you don’t have to latch onto that thought. You can choose to look for the good in others. Make it a habit to try to find at least one good quality in each person. You will find it is not hard to do once you get started.
Consider one positive way each person contributes to the world. It may be that they work hard or that they are kind to animals. It could be that they are a good parent or are very outspoken about a cause. Whatever their passion, how does it positively impact others?
Focus on other’s strengths. You may not value the same things as them, but they still have strengths. Everyone does. So, what might another person’s strengths be?
Appreciate the way that they are a piece of the puzzle. We are all a part of the puzzle. Each one of us adds an important piece to the world and without that piece, it wouldn’t be the same. There are pieces of the puzzle that are far away from each other and don’t even touch, but they are still important in the grand scheme of the puzzle. Try to appreciate that we all hold an important place in the world as each of us impact the whole.
Remember that each person has a story. We don’t always understand why people act the way they do or make the choices that they do. Sometimes we disagree with those behaviors or choices. But, remember that there are reasons for the way we all develop. There are stories behind each person and we don’t always know what those stories are. Show compassion for others, and wonderment about their story.
Liking someone doesn’t mean liking everything about them. We all have our flaws, but to focus on those flaws and allow that focus to take away from the good would be unfortunate. If nothing else, you can appreciate that each person is unique. Sometimes we just don’t click with someone, and that is human nature. Not all personalities go well together. But, that doesn’t mean that someone is not a good or likeable person. Maybe they just aren’t your “cup of tea.”
Read back through these suggestions replacing the words relating to “other people” with words that relate to you, such as “I,” “my,” or “myself.” Learning to accept yourself as ever-changing and unique is a wonderful way to improve your self-confidence and will provide you with another very natural way to appreciate others. After all, our thoughts about others really are only a reflection of our thoughts about ourselves.
Tamra Hughes MA, LPC http://www.thcounseling.com