I yesterday wrote about the habit of taking other people’s responsibility as if it was one’s own. It is really a common habit and many people don’t realize that they take responsibility for complete lives until some day it becomes too much. The same thing happens however in every day’s life with smaller topics, too. You can often hear how someone advises another person before doing something which keeps the other one from making his or her own experience.
This has probably happened to you, too. You are about to meet someone and a friend, who knows the other one, too, tells you just minutes before you meet ‘But be careful, don’t believe everything he says, he really exaggerates’. Now you will act differently with that person although you have never met him before. You have a certain attitude beforehand. In business it can be useful to have such information about your conversational partner before. You may get to know from senior and more experienced colleagues that the one you are about to meet does not like to be pushed for a decision or that he is an impulsive person. In private relations however it often creates unnecessary prejudices and tensions. If you had gone with a blank mind and had met this person without knowing anything before, you may have experienced him or her in a very different way.
It is not only about people though, the same thing happens with places, in fashion and in all kinds of situations. If you get to know the other person’s preference beforehand, if you get to know something before you experience it yourself, you start with another impression. The question is what can we do about it? After all, the input is everywhere and comes from all sides!
You can remind yourself again and again not to have prejudices. Has someone told you something negative about another person or place? Go and see for yourself. You can keep it in mind and it can be a helpful warning, too, but it is not always necessarily true for you. Keep yourself blank and open for experiences.
More important than keeping yourself free of other people’s impressions is however not to give such ideas to others. Take care to give your opinion when you are asked for. You are not responsible for the other person so you don’t need to advise him or her unless the other one wants to know. Just because you found a place too big, too small, too full, too quiet or too busy does not mean the other one may not enjoy it. Maybe the other one enjoys exactly this peace that you found disturbing. Maybe the other one does not mind the extra space or the closeness which you did not like at all. Or maybe it is not that busy when the other one goes there. You cannot know and you should not give the other one an impression that could change his or her perception. This is true especially with negative advice.
The biggest reason for keeping your opinion to yourself unless asked for is that you may have a wrong impression yourself or other people may experience it differently. There is a very popular story which comes from a scripture about Vedanta philosophy. There were four blind men who met an elephant. As they could not see the elephant, they started touching it to find out what an elephant was and how it looked like. One of them touched the tail and said ‘An elephant is like a rope!’ Another one touched the leg and exclaimed ‘No, it is like a pillar!’ The third one, who had grabbed the ear of the elephant, said ‘The elephant is like a big hand fan!’ but the fourth one said ‘No, an elephant is just like an Anaconda!’ He was feeling the trunk of the elephant.
This story shows nicely that you only know your own perception and draw conclusions from it without knowing the full picture. You are like a blind man trying to tell the others how the world looks like. The other one however could get a fully different idea. So don’t try to convince the other one about what you see or feel. Let others experience the world on their own. If they come and ask you about your impression, you can let them know but don’t give them an idea beforehand and don’t try to convince them.