I remember thinking, “If I say this, it will be really obnoxious.” And then saying it.
This adolescent stage lasted until I turned 16. I remember distinctly when it ended because at the same time my brother turned 12, entering this same stage. Faced with his new-found obnoxiousness, I realized just how annoying I was and decided that I did not want to act that way.
Some of the lessons that have stuck best with me through my life have been those that stemmed from my initial judgement of others — and a decision to not want to be that way. I recently reflected again on the thought that spawned my entry: “Periods and Question Marks” and once again resolved to ask more questions, particularly when I’m engaging with customers. As I thought more of this, I realized there is a general principle to this: we tend to judge others more harshly for things which we are also likely to be guilty.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” – Matthew 7:3-5
This wisdom is deeper than simply not judging, but rather indicates a trigger. A trigger for when we judge others; we should reflect about how we might avoid doing the very same thing. Very often this kind of reflection helps us change because we have a concrete example of what we DON’T want to be like.
Sometimes we meet people who illustrate our aspirations, inspiring us to change. Other times we meet people who illustrate the opposite of what we want to become. This is when we should seek to learn from the anti-example.