How to See Other People Correctly

“You see persons and things not as they are but as you are.”
― Anthony de Mello

We see almost nothing as it is. We bring expectations, prejudgements, and general baggage to everything. When someone praises you, they are speaking about their understanding of you. The same goes for when they criticize you. The same goes the other way when you praise or criticize them. You are saying something about yourself, and what you think of them, not necessarily what they are. It’s liberating to know that. Someone saying a word about us is, in reality, a statement about their judgments about us. It’s about them. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you get to discount what they say. It means that you have to understand it properly. When someone is saying something good about you, it is a statement about what they value. It means that they approve of something you did because it aligns with their values or interests. When someone says something negative about you, you did something contrary to their values and interests. That is all it means. It doesn’t mean that people think so highly of you, and you have the pressure of living up to it. Nor does it mean that criticism of you is a statement of anything more than that person’s preferred behaviors. It doesn’t mean that you should ignore those things. It is still good to understand them and take them into account. Just don’t take things too personally. When you can detach and see things from that perspective, the world looks a lot different.

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