Life is such a tough call. We assume other people are sailing through their lives without any of the stuff we have to put up with. Of course it's all relative and my current bad back is another persons disintegrating discs. I was complaining about my sciatica to my client who finds it difficult walking because of the state of her spine. And as she pointed out, as she quoted me back to me....Each persons issues are there own! Hoisted by own petard,when I felt guilty about moaning to her!
We make assumptions all the time about people, even before they open their mouths sometimes. How they are dressed, what their hair looks like, what their age is, skin colour, sexual orientation. We don't necessarily check out what people have told us about themselves we just relate to them based on our feelings about them ( for those who like to know this is the Freudian concept of transference)
The problem of doing this is that when we relate to people based purely on our judgement call we don't really meet them to know them. We meet them thinking we know how they are, what they feel, who they are. And this does such a disservice to others.
I am constantly reminded of this in my work. A new client comes in, I will not have read the referral letter, as that is someone else's judgement call. I will because I'm human make an instant appraisal of that person, do I like the look of them, will we be able to work together. All these thoughts go through my head instantly even before the client has spoken. As they do through everyone's head whenever we meet new people.
But then I have to stop that routine human reaction as I have to listen to the client, and find out who they are, and what they are bringing to therapy. It takes a long time to be able to learn to do this and there are times even know when I don't succeed immediately. But I do my best, and I think I can say hand on heart that by the time the first session has finished I have heard them and not imposed my views in my mind about who they are.
I always have to work with what people tell me about themselves, so if a client come in telling me that she is a wood elf then that is what we have to work with It is not for me tell her she's not. I may of course not believe her. But within the session I have to suspend my credulity and work with the clients beliefs. Otherwise how is anyone going to trust me.
So the question is can we break the habit of doing this to people we meet? What do we need to do to allow the person to be who they are, rather than who we think they are? It's not easy, but really it must be done if we as human beings are going to break our unconscious prejudices that make us judge others without checking out who they really are.
If society in any country is going to survive then we have to open our minds to who the people really are around us. Not every foreigner is .... Not every person of colour is.... Not every old person is.... Not everyone hoodie wearing youth is.... etc,etc The list of assumptions made by anyone of us, about anyone of us is at best wrong and at worst destructive.
The world is a dangerous place full of threat and fear,or is it? If we open our minds to meet others without are own labeling being used first, could we as the world's society get on better. Would there be less misunderstanding, less fighting, more peace, more hope of everyone having a right to be who they are and to be heard as such.
Of course if that happens there will always be extremists who believe their views are more right than others. But isn't it time that the majority of us the 'normal' people had a voice about living in tolerance, kindness and peace with our fellow human?
We have a right to be heard, we have a right to believe that we should live in a democracy where our voice is as important as the next humans. What right some people in this world take to think it is okay to kill their fellow human because they are terrified of loosing power or wealth is an absolute disgrace.