Wouldn’t it be great if we could magically eliminate all those annoying and less than attractive qualities we find in the people we love.? You know what I mean—what they do is not so bad that you would end the relationship but it’s bad enough to cause concern and doubt. I’m sure you have glanced over at someone significant in your life and thought “Ugh—I wish he or she was more like this or less like that or did these things more or those things less.” Fill in the blank and find what fits for you.
We all judge. We can’t help but judge others—it’s in our DNA. Some of us try to pretend we don’t judge; others have no problem publicly annihilating others. We judge for several reasons. First, it makes us feel righteous and superior. Find someone who judges others incessantly, you will find someone with many hidden insecurities and self-doubts. Second, others’ perceived weaknesses or faults highlight our own unmet needs. And most of us don’t like to feel empty and unfulfilled. Third, no one likes disappointment and everyone has expectations. When others show up less than who we want or need them to be, we are left with the job of dealing with our own feelings and issues. And finally, there’s nothing more satisfying to the ego than to project our own weaknesses onto others. No one likes to admit their own imperfections and it is much easier to either project them onto someone else or distract yourself from being responsible for your own.
So this week, I want to send a little reminder to everyone, myself included.
Whatever you are judging in someone else, you have your own version within you. To illustrate my point, I’ll share an example of my own.
Some time ago, I was watching my significant other pour himself a glass of wine. He likes his wine and if his stomach could take it, he would love to indulge in a glass or two of wine every night. For the most part, his wine habit does not have any real detrimental effects on me and our relationship. Although having said this, there are a few exceptions—one, he gets sleepy and has less energy to spend quality time with me; two, he tends to snore a bit louder which keeps me from getting a good nights’ sleep; and three, it upsets his acid reflux and I have to watch his self-induced suffering in subtle ways (he’s not a big complainer but the suffering shows up nonetheless).
I, on the other hand, am not a big drinker. Wine gives me a headache and alcohol has never been a big draw for me. I could go months without any alcohol and be just fine. I don’t like being around people who are highly intoxicated and find their behaviors rather “stupid.” If truth be told, I wish my significant other would drink less wine so he would be healthier, feel better, and have more energy overall. This is one trait I’d love to change about him if I could—not a big deal but one that makes me pause every now and then.
One day when I was watching my significant other make a special trip to the grocery store to buy another bottle of wine and open it up to pour himself a glass, I found myself with the feeling of “yuck.” I was officially “turned off” feeling like there was something wrong with this person who didn’t seem to either want to give up his wine or worse, couldn’t give up his wine. I was filled with judgment and began to wonder if this was a behavior I could live with or not.
Then something occurred to me. I had my own version of a glass of wine. While I didn’t get his love for wine, I did get my love for danish. I began to wonder how I would feel if he judged my morning bearclaw or worse yet, asked me to give them up entirely. I realized that for as many faults (and that’s a subjective determination, by the way) as my significant other has, I can find as many of my own.
No one is perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and as most of us know—all strengths can be weaknesses and all weaknesses can be strengths—it’s all in the context and the devil’s in the details.
I decided that his enjoyment of a glass of wine with dinner is really a non-issue. Asking him to give up his nighttime pleasure would be the same as him asking me to give up my morning danish. It wouldn’t go over well with me and I would resent his judgment and intrusion on such a benign issue (yes, I know—another subjective value judgment). I guarantee that on many, if not most of your “complaints”, if you look hard enough, you will find your equivalent as well.
So the next time you find yourself annoyed, frustrated or just plain turned off by some quality or habit your loved one has, remember to turn the tables around and see if you have a version of your own. Unless a behavior is truly destructive, try to let it go. Accept the imperfections, learn to focus on the strengths, and appreciate the fact that you are no different.
Remember, those that live in glass houses…. really shouldn’t throw stones.
Oh, and don’t forget to forward this to all the people in your life that live in glass houses too!
If you or someone you know is struggling in creating strong and intimate relationships in any area of their life, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m here to help. I provide personalized counseling and coaching. And if you want to start right now, go and purchase The Pathway to Love at-home program. You don’t need to wait. You can begin the process today. Take advantage of the opportunity receive the support and guidance you deserve.
As always, I’m here to support you in creating strong and intimate relationships.