I want to share a recent experience I had that brought a new awareness to my life. I was prejudged a situation and it turned out to be different than I thought.
I was flying back from Miami last week and I sat next to an older white woman. She appeared to be in her sixties and she was well dressed and groomed. She was reading a Nora Roberts novel. The book must have been really good, because she didn’t stop reading it when I sat down next to her. In fact she didn’t do anything to acknowledge my presence. She just kept right along reading her book.
This bothered me a bit, because I was hoping that she would at least say hello or something. After a few minutes of her just reading her book and saying nothing to me, I began to asses the situation. I had to tell myself something to explain her unfriendliness.
The easiest explanation I could create form what I saw was that she might be afraid of me. I started a conversation around her being prejudice towards blacks. I was saying stuff like maybe she was this old school southern woman who never liked colored people. I was thinking that she might go the entire flight and not speak to me.
I continued to have this internal conversation for a few more minuets, until I got tired of entertaining such negative thoughts. Then I pulled out my ipad and began to watch a movie.
A few minutes later she asked me what was the device I was looking at. I was a bit surprised that she jumped right into a conversation with me. I told her that I was watching a movie on my ipad. She then asked me a few more question about the ipad, now we were in a full-blown conversation.
She started to tell me about herself and her life. She was a 70-year-old retired widow, living alone in south GA. She was looking to find her a boyfriend that she could have some fun and adventure with. She also told me that she really like dancing and wished there was a good place to go ballroom and salsa dancing in her neighborhood.
Me being the life coach, motivational speaker that I am, I began to create possibilities with her. I mentioned several ideas that she hadn’t thought of. I know this because she said, “I hadn’t thought of that” several time during our talk.
20 minutes into our talk she says “ why do I feel like I’m talk to my counselor, are you a counselor?” I chuckled and told her no. I told her that I was studying to be a life coach. She then told me that I was good and that she believed that I would be very successful at be a life coach.
We continued to talk for the remainder of our flight, she told me as much about her life story as she could in our hour and a half talk. She went on to share some very intimate things with me. That’s when she started to whisper.
By the end of the flight this woman was in tears. She was crying because I made her feel safe and comfortable, and she was sharing very intimate things that she was dealing with, so she got emotional.
When we were in our final decent to Atlanta she asked my if I had a card and if I would mind if she called me sometime to talk to me. She said that she had really enjoyed our talk. She gave me a big hug and told me thanks for listening and talking to her.
During out talk she told me that she was an army brat and had lived around the world and country. That she was never brought up to be prejudice. In fact she admitted to having crushes on several black men in her day. She said that she had never agreed with racist people and that she thought black people were great dancers.
Here is the breakthrough I got from this conversation. This woman was nothing like I thought her to be. She was not an old school southern woman that had a problem with colored people. She was not afraid of me at all or any of the other things that I created her to be.
To be perfectly honest I was the one doing the prejudging and projecting it onto her. I was the one creating all of the negative energy between us, by assuming that she was a certain way without even saying one word or any interaction with her.
When the flight was over I felt bad about what I was thinking about this nice old lady. I had made her out to be the bad girl just because she didn’t stop reading her book and talk to me. I hadn’t even realized that I didn’t talk to her either. I could have said hello first. I was waiting on her to talk to me and making her wrong for not doing something that I hadn’t done myself.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you do this to people? Do you ever judge other without even knowing a single thing about them? Do you make up stories about people based on your past experiences? If so stop it right now.
I realized that was contribution to the very problem I’m out to eradicate. I wasn’t being loving at all. I was letting my fear run the show and that’s not who I want to be.
I invite you to take a look at how you do this or something similar in your life.