Refrain From Judging Others Until You’ve Driven a Mile in Their Vehicle!

We are a judgmental lot, aren’t we?  We start with ourselves; most perfectionists are our own worst critic!  But then, we carry the judgments over to others, expecting them to meet the same high expectations we set for ourselves or pointing out where they fall short, like it might make us feel better about ourselves, particularly if they have criticized us.  Not a good step towards creating lasting relationships!

Instead, mindfully practicing releasing judgments makes more room for love and authentic connections.  I was reminded of that on Sunday when I had an opportunity to see firsthand how judgments are cloaked in our own perspective and that maybe the old adage of not judging someone’s thoughts, actions, or opinions until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes, or in my case, driven a mile in their vehicle, makes good sense.

My husband, Fred, and I had to deliver his Ford Expedition to a repair shop about 60 miles south of us; the plan was that I would follow him there and we’d come home together in my low to the ground, two-seat vehicle.  This errand didn’t have to be done on Sunday, but we both preferred that day.  However, on Sunday morning it was raining with the ominous prediction of heavy snow storms due later in the day.  I was reluctant but Fred told me if we left right then, we would be back before the bad weather reached our area.  We headed out with the Expedition in the lead.

After the first five miles, Fred called wondering if I wanted to turn around.  “The roads are fine, just wet.” he said in response to my 60 mile an hour speed.  We’ve only been married five years and I believe my husband is one of the most considerate people I know.  He would have turned around if I said I wanted to do that, but I realized that it was an old fear from an accident that was making me over cautious, so we pressed on.  I got my speed up to 70 miles/hr. and was feeling pretty good about processing that old fear when I noticed that the temperature was falling.

The temperature went from 38 degrees to 27 degrees in about ten miles and the rain turned to snow.  Then slush started accumulating on the road.  I took my speed back down to 60.  Then I saw it – a car in the ditch.  Then, another and another.  Fred called again to see how I was holding up.  He said “the roads are fine.”  I’d heard that earlier, but this time I said “OMG, are you crazy, there are cars in the ditches and my traction control has gone on twice!”  He offered to trade cars, but I was hesitant at first.  I know my car; I’m not used to driving his huge vehicle.  But then I heard the voice of my intuition saying to trade; we took the next exit to make the switch.

Your perspective and another’s perspective of the same experience will typically not be the same – you’re riding in a different vehicle (life). While making the exchange, I couldn’t believe how he kept saying that it wasn’t that bad out.  Cars in the ditch are a red flag for me that it’s bad out; how could he not feel the same way?  I judged him for not relating to the stress I was feeling and for being such a broken record about the roads being fine!

You can’t possibly know how another person is experiencing something until you drive a mile in their vehicle! It didn’t even take a mile for me to realize that driving the big kahuna vehicle was an entirely different experience than driving my car.  The roads weren’t that bad or so it seemed!  I felt stable and secure; no wonder Fred thought the roads were fine.  And guess what?  He never got the small car over 50 miles/hr. throughout the rest of the trip.  I figure he realized that the roads weren’t so fine about the same time as I realized they were!

Next time I judge someone for not seeing my point of view or not understanding where I’m coming from, I’m going to spend more time investigating their point of view.  I might decide to trade!

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