People often tell you that you should only see the best in others. I disagree. I’m not saying that you should walk through life thinking the worst of everyone, but it’s important to be realistic. You should see people and situations for what they really are, which can prevent you from getting your heart broken, or getting repeatedly hurt and disappointed.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that everyone will eventually tell you who they are. All that remains is for you to hear and listen to them, no matter how disappointing.
If someone lies to you, they’re telling you that trusting them may not be such a good idea. If someone is overly secretive, they may be suggesting that they have something to hide. When you’re the only one putting forth all the effort, remember that old adage. “Actions speak louder than words.” When someone teaches you how they want to be treated, your only job is to pay attention, learn the lesson, and pass the class.
But know that it’s not your fault if you only want to see the very best in people. It’s a utopian and optimistic outlook to have. Moreover, they teach us to stay positive and give people the benefit of the doubt.
We absolutely shouldn’t err on the opposite end of the spectrum — only seeing the worst in people. Instead, we need to see the facts for what they are, good or bad.
If someone you care for acts poorly (by your standards), it’s not your job to make excuses for their less than perfect behavior. It may be that they are content with the way they are, and your expectations are simply that — yours.
Often, I’ve been guilty of projecting my hopes onto boyfriends, co-workers, friends, and family. This only bought a round of disappointment for everyone involved. I was disappointed they didn’t become what I quietly hoped for, and they were disappointed they couldn’t measure up.
Only seeing the best in someone is living in the future.
It can only be filled with the anxiety of the unknown, hoping they will deliver. It is hoping they grow into a pair of size 12 shoes when all they have in their wardrobe are size 10s. Living in the present is seeing who they are for what they are, in the here and now, and not the potential that you secretly harbor for them. Seeing only the best in others can quickly turn into holding them to standards they didn’t voluntarily sign up for.
In my most recent relationship, I projected onto him, our shared culture and heritage, as we are both Chinese. I painted my partner in such a way that he had no choice but to disappoint. He was explicit, but I was blinded by my potential for him. Let me be crystal clear: it wasn’t his fault.
I told everyone he was Sir Lancelot, and that he floated down on a cloud, galloped his way into my life on a white horse, swept me off my feet and into a castle in the sky. What I neglected to include in recounting my fairytale of him was his rather large concrete feet and Sauron’s wart on his nose. His suit of armor was a little rusty and in need of greasing. His castle was more of a walk-up studio that was desperate for a cleaning. But none of that mattered to me, as he had potential. No one’s perfect and everyone has weaknesses, even him. It was time to take off those rose-colored glasses.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t see the best or the worst in people, but to keep it down to earth and real. It’s time to temper the extremes.
So, tell yourself: when he does come knocking at your door, he will already be all that you want him to be. And you will be the same for him. And you will be accepting of one another, warts and all!
Featured image by Joshua Rawson-Harris via Unsplash.