Assuming the Best In Others
Last week during a quick lunch break, a female co-worker decided to candidly share her feedback about me.
“You know, Cerina, I really like you, you’re awesome. I wasn’t so sure about you at first. I thought you might be a b—-, but it turns out you weren’t. You’re great.”
I was intrigued, so I pestered for more information.
“Was I mean or unfriendly at first? Was I not welcoming to you? What made you unsure?”
“Nothing really, I just saw you were really direct and took charge, which could be trouble. But you’re really nice, you’re just a strong communicator.”
Why do we do this to each other? Why do we assume the worst of others until they can prove better? More and more, I have seen women turn on each other and engage in unhealthy competition rather than supportive collaboration. When I hear a female say “I always get along better with the guys”, my mind zooms around a million miles an hour. “Did other women hurt you?” “Do you like to judge and criticize other women?”
I believe that many of us are distraught with past hurts from family, childhood and/or relationships. This leaves us feeling insecure, fearful, hopeless and this list goes on for miles. So how do we repair these hurts? How do we turn our insecurities into empowerment and confidence and our fear into striking strength? One way that has been a powerful recovery tool for me has been to reach out and build others up. When you seek relationships that you can encourage, uplift and strengthen those same people strive to build you in the same way. As women, we need this. We need to assume the best in others and not worry about their weight gain, their failures or their outdated shoes. We need to foster and learn from each other’s strength and find forgiveness in weaknesses. And we need to love the diversity in each other and grow from each other’s differences rather than find comfort in the sameness.
How can we be better at this?
1) Individual Therapy. So cliché, I know, but without a doubt this has enabled me more than anything else to look at others in relationship and know when difficulty with others is my own stuff. Half the time (well, way more than half), our initial assumptions, triggers or annoyances are from unresolved past relationships. For the longest time, I had the most difficult time with a certain personality. I talked about this in therapy for a long while before I realized this personality was me! And it was the part of me that I struggled to change. This insight fostered me to grow and improve myself and find grace and acceptance with others.
2) Forgiving. We have all been hurt by others. I believe our struggle to let go and resolve these hurts makes us hesitant, suspicious and wary of each other. As a protective mechanism, it feels safer to hold others at arms length and criticize as an excuse for doing so. When we forgive others for hurting us, it feels safer to lean in toward others who may remind you of that person. It fosters resolution and promotes character growth and refinement.
3) Loving Ourselves. When people have hurt me, I have seen deep dislike and hatred toward their own selves. In fact, statistics show that most abusers in domestic violence relationships report hating themselves more than anybody they know. As women, I believe that we attack, nitpick and gossip to hide and distract ourselves from our own dislike. I have many female friends that build and uplift me in astounding ways when we see each other. These women have done tremendous work to attack old negative myths they learned about themselves and seek self-love and kindness. And for me, the better I feel about myself, the less problems I see with others.
How about you? What do you want to do to show collaboration, support and praise to other women in your life today?