The question that makes me less judgmental

What security are they afraid of losing?

Two instincts drive human behavior: self-promotion and self-protection. (I’m sure there are more, but those are two.) These aren’t necessarily good or bad instincts, they’re just how we’ve evolved to evaluate the world and figure out how to move about in it. We always want to improve our station in life and we tend want to protect the good we’ve already acquired when we feel threatened.

I think when people do things that perplex, hurt, or annoy me, I tend to assume they are acting out of self-promotion. That they are trying to better their station, even if that comes at the expense of something to me. And of course, when I assume that, I get angry or frustrated or judgmental. Always judgmental.

But what if I were to assume, instead, that someone is instead acting out of self-preservation? That they feel threatened or insecure in some way?

Asking myself what someone else could be trying to protect, and wondering what fear could be driving that self-protection, is helping me not necessarily see others better (I’m still guessing, after all, and my guesses could be WAY off), but it is helping me be more compassionate. If I have to make assumptions, which I do in order to move through this world, at least I can assume things that are kind, at least until/unless I learn anything more… nefarious.

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