Who Are They Really About?
Ever wonder why you occasionally have a really strong reaction to someone? For instance, imagine meeting someone that you experience (and evaluate) as gregarious, confident, and unselfconscious. Your reaction might be admiration and you feel drawn to them. Another person might react with disdain and find them overbearing and arrogant. Opposite reactions but both felt strongly and exposing more about the evaluator than about the person they're evaluating.
What if you asked yourself why you feel so strongly about this person? Why does it matter so deeply how another person expresses themselves?
In the first example you might long to feel confident and unselfconscious, perhaps hoping to glean some of the other's energy by being around them. In the second example the person doing the evaluating might feel threatened that the attention isn't on them, that the other person is more popular or attractive.
In both cases envy is underlying the evaluation. Both would like some of what the person they've evaluated has, it just shows up differently depending on the personality characteristics of the evaluator.
But who wants to admit they're envious? It's more comfortable to point out flaws in others than in ourselves!
Paying attention to our evaluations of others can tell us a lot about what we're avoiding in ourselves. It provides an opportunity to unbind us from our own self evaluations. And in turn, the possibility of self acceptance and self compassion.
The next time you find yourself evaluating someone else, stop and ask yourself why you're so invested in your reaction. What feelings about yourself are you camouflaging by evaluating someone else?
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