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February 20, 2009

Are You Helping or Hindering Others?

One thing I've learned more about over the last few years is how people perceive the world, especially in how they perceive others.  A lesson I've learned is that when you become negative towards someone that you know, if there is currently no evidence to support the action to the other person, often times you are projecting yourself and your experiences and seeing the reflection of your experiences back at you.  Here is an example of an experience I've had that sums up this point.

When driving in the car a while ago with someone (not to be named here), I was having a conversation with the person about what both of our goals were.  After describing to the passenger some of the things I would like to achieve over the next 5-15 years, the passenger promptly turned to me and told me that I couldn't say what I expected my life to be like in 5-15 years, because most likely I was going to have problems come up that would deviate my course, cause me to fall short of my goals, and fail.  I was intrigued by this, because I always create expectations of the future for myself, and it is one of the core tools I use to determine what courses of action to take now and to also keep me excited for the future, and yes, changes of course do happen.  Good thing for me, I don't care for pessimism when it's unwarranted, so the criticism stayed with me in order to display this lesson, but didn't touch me.  

Later this same person apologized, when they realized that they had made the expectation based-upon their own experiences, because when they had made life goals in the past they had been derailed for various reasons even though they had poured their heart and soul into them, so they expected that this was the way the world worked.  There was no reason based-upon myself or my life experiences that had caused this impression on them.  I commended this person for being able to realize that it was not anything inherent in myself that made the impression, but rather the filter they had seen the world through.  Most other people would never have realized this about what they said and would never have taken the time to reflect upon it, which elevated my respect for this individual.

So when you are interacting with others, what do you tell them?  Are you the encouraging individual that doesn't let preconceptions from your own life get in the way, and instead make sure that you help them to find the best path to achieving their goal?  Or have you not realized that your negativity is due to your own perceived failures in life that you approach things so negatively and dampen the enthusiasm of those around you and try to keep them from going after their dreams?  No matter what camp you currently fall into, the future is yet to be determined, and since the only way you can maximize the future is to take risks now, it is better to give people the benefit of the doubt and encourage them to go act on their dreams.  

Related Articles:
Constructive Complaining
How to Use Pessimism to Your Advantage

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