I recently started walking a tiny Chihuahua named Miles. When I first met Miles, his owner told me that if I just let Miles bite me, he’d likely get over his nervousness more quickly.  I wasn’t willing to do that, as I felt confident that Miles and I could get on the same page without risking a puncture wound.

I’m now a month in of walking Miles, and today he enjoyed a massage from me.  Basically, since our first walk together, where he had to be carried down the stairs because he’s too tiny to navigate them, we’ve been building our relationship.  He’s still skittish, but I’d say we’ve come a long ways in a month.  I share this because I wonder how many times we write off other humans because of their behaviors toward us.  Much like Miles, I have no idea of his actual life history, or what makes him so fearful.  I could presume he had a rough go as a pup, or perhaps it’s because of his size, or maybe it’s how he relates to females, or simply how his DNA is expressed; but those are all just guesses.  The same is likely always true for other humans.  We never truly know another person’s reasoning behind their actions.

I was at my Retinologist this past week, and the doctor asked me how I felt my vision had been doing.  I mentioned to him that I felt like it might be worth checking my peripheral vision, as I have been startled more by people walking up beside me.  I’m guessing that as those passer-bys heard me let out a startled yelp, that what they guessed about why was likely not exactly true.

It’s curious to me who we have let slip through the cracks of life because we immediately wrote them off, for one reason or another, based on our snap judgment about their personality.  I’m certain each of us can recall a time when our actions did not accurately reflect our whole, and we knew that we had lost our opportunity to ever re-engage our audience without them continuously replaying the first encounter in their minds.  Perhaps the snapshot we shared of ourselves was not even close to the truth of what we usually radiate from within.

I think so often people feel they have been burned by trusting someone who turned out to actually be who their gut tried to warn them that they were, that they became skeptical of second-chances, and much hastier in their initial judgments of a person’s character.  But here is the really important thing to keep in mind- we are judging people based on our own filters and fears; our past experiences.  Beyond that though, we are also creating those judgments based on our held beliefs about ourselves.

Consider this:  You see a mom in a grocery store that seems to be paying no attention to her child who is racing up and down the aisle, touching items, and yelling about.  Immediately you begin to form a judgment of this parent, and what you believe they should be doing.  You also are forming opinions about their child, and emotions about how you feel they are loved, or guided by their parent.  These assumptions are all based on what you believe a good parent is, or what your parents were or were not like, and what you wanted from your parents, and if that was offered to you. Your judgments about others are always filtered through your internal beliefs first.

One way to quickly recognize this pattern is to listen to the thoughts racing your mind as you watch an event unfolding.  Are you hearing the word, “should.”  How something “should,” or “should not” be?  Are your emotions feeling triggered?  These are tell-tale signs that you are reacting from a place of internal beliefs.

Thankfully, Miles took a chance on me, because I truly love dogs, and I know how to walk, treat, and massage them; all things he really likes.  Thankfully I chose to give Miles the opportunity to show me his true personality colors.  Image if we all offered each other the space to ride our personal rollercoaster of life, with its highs and lows, and when we stepped off onto level ground again, we were embraced rather than judged.  That would certainly make us all feel more willing to be open to one another.

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