I have noticed that people get themselves into trouble when they assume that everyone thinks like they do. We tend to think that if something upsets us, it will upset everyone. If we enjoy an activity, then everyone would enjoy it. If we dislike someone, we expect everyone will dislike them.
This mentality assumes that:
- You are right
- You are smarter than everyone else
- Other people should want keep you happy
- Other people should defer to your preferences
This ties into our mental health as it increases suffering! When you expect that someone will hold the same opinion as you do, you inevitably set yourself up for suffering due to the likely disappointment that will occur. Holding others to the same standards as we hold ourselves also opens us to anger as high expectations are a form of judgment. Judging another person does not lead to the other person magically changing and thinking differently; it leads to you being angry (and them not usually even being aware of it!)
So what can you do about it? The trick here is to learn to recognize when you are judging other people for their opinions and when you are holding them to your standards. When you find yourself “shoulding” on them, you are likely rigidly believing that they need to do it YOUR way. Once you notice that you are in this trap, the trick is to replace the judgment with a factual description and acknowledge that other people are allowed to have their own opinions.
“What an idiot, they should have known I wanted to leave at 5pm to beat traffic. What is wrong with them? Who likes to sit in traffic??!”
“I am tired from a long day and I know how annoyed I get in traffic. I would have preferred to leave at 5pm and yet I can understand why they would want to wait until 6pm. Getting downtown an hour early means we’d have to figure out a way to kill time”.
“How can the restaurant be out of rice? Whoever does their ordering needs fired!”
“I was really looking forward to beans and rice with my enchiladas, it’s frustrating that they are out. I bet it is embarrassing for the manager and frustrating for the staff to keep having to explain this. Perhaps tonight I will try the taco salad”.
See if you can try this in your family!