We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are. Everyone perceives the world and the people in it through a filter of their own beliefs, desires, and life experiences. This is why ten people can witness the same event and come away with ten different interpretations of what happened and what it meant.
In the same way, we naturally gravitate toward certain types of people, and away from others. We tend to like people who possess qualities that we like about ourselves, or that we aspire to have. And we tend to dislike people who possess qualities that we dislike about ourselves, or that offend our deeply-held core values.
Let me tell you about one of my favorite people in this world. His name is Nick. Nick is one of the kindest, gentlest, most humble people I’ve ever met. He is a patient teacher and an inspiring example of what can be achieved when you are passionate about your craft. When my flight home from New York was canceled and I thought I was going to be stranded alone in the path of an approaching hurricane, he took the time to find me a seat on the last flight out of a completely different airport. Then he drove across the city to pick me up and took me to the airport himself. And wouldn’t accept a dime from me. (I hid some money in his car for him to find later). At the time, we didn’t even know each other that well.
His willingness to go above and beyond for the good of others is a quality that I’d like to believe I possess and value too. His kindness and patience are things that I aspire to as well. Is he a first responder or a member of the military? No, he’s a city bus driver. But he is 100% a hero to me.
Now I’ll tell you about someone I don’t like so much. Let’s call him Jeffrey. I thought I loved him, and that he loved me. We were planning to spend our lives together. I thought I was so lucky to have someone like him in my life, except for one irritating flaw: anytime we had an argument, he would walk out. We never got to resolve anything because he’d just leave. For hours. When he finally came back the conversation was closed as far as he was concerned, and I was left to figure things out on my own. I hated this about him, because leaving unfinished business was something I would just never do. Then one day, we had another argument and he left. Only this time, I just happened to be 1000 miles from home. And he didn’t come back.
Jeffrey WAS in the military. Duty and honor and all that.
Those are 2 extreme examples, but they illustrate the point. We like and admire the people who have the qualities that we value. And we dislike people who have qualities that conflict with our core values, or that we don’t like about ourselves.
So, the next time you notice yourself having strong opinions (either negative or positive) about someone else, stop and ask yourself what that says about you. Because after all… we don’t see the world as it is. We see it as WE are.