Written by Elliott Starr
Quick experiment. Look around the room at everything that is red.
Look at the screen.
Do not look around.
Try to remember everything that is blue.
Why can’t you remember anything blue?
Because I told you to look at everything that is red.
Red has value.
Blue doesn’t have value.
You look at the blue, but you’re not consciously aware of it.
In humans, we call this a reticular activating system.
I could write dozens of blog posts on how this truly affects your day to day life.
But if you’re really interested, find out for yourself.
But. Have you considered how this might affect your personal relationships?
“You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover”.
But don’t forget:
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.
It’s all a bit confusing really, isn’t it?
The fact is, we do judge people when we first meet them.
And every time from that point onwards.
As humans, we’ve survived, and evolved, by knowing when something in our immediate environment is a threat, even other humans.
So if someone says something unintelligent when we first meet them. We label that person as unintelligent.
If someone is particularly happy when we first meet them, we label that person as happy.
If someone is rude, or confrontational when we first meet them we label that person as always being rude and confrontational.
And then we look for evidence to support that label.
Remember the reticular activating system.
If you have judged that someone as rude and confrontational.
Then rude and confrontational behaviour in that person has value.
So when you’re around them, you take note of the behaviour that you can label as rude or confrontational. You give it value and so, pay more attention to it- further supporting the label, the role you’ve created for them.
You ignore the nice, normal things they do, and start to look for the things they do that justifies the label you’ve given them.
You force them to fit a role. And you play a role accordingly.
If you judge someone as particularly funny, you play a role of being particularly amused when you’re around them.
If you judge someone as a bully, you play a role as a victim.
As humans we judge.
But as humans, we’re also capable of forgiving.
So let go of your grudges at the start of each day. Stop labelling. Stop judging.
You might see something that contradicts the label you’ve given someone.
If you don’t. Maybe you were right. But there’s always the chance you were wrong.