Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in the world: those we love and those we don’t understand. When we see ourselves in others, we like them. They are like me, we think, (rightly or wrongly) and I don’t need to fear them. We presume that we know how they think and what we can expect from them. We think we know them because we think we know ourselves. Usually, that’s true only superficially.


The second group, those we don’t understand, may actually be more similar to us. Especially if we have a strong negative reaction, we probably unconsciously sense something in them we don’t like in ourselves. We project onto them what we haven’t owned in ourselves. If you haven’t integrated your own vulnerability, you will feel disdain for the needy. If you haven’t come to terms with your anger, you may perceive hostility all around you. If you practice deceit, you won’t trust anyone.


What we regard as strange and keep at a distance inside us, we will push away around us. We may even label it disparagingly. “Just like a (fill in the blank: woman, man, neo-con, bleeding heart liberal, psychologist, lawyer, welfare recipient, rich bitch).” The list goes on.


Until we accept every part of ourselves, we will criticize others. When we do acknowledge and own our quirks and vulnerability and ugliness, we can appreciate the universal challenge of being human. We need to delve pretty deeply inside and that’s not fun. We don’t do it to feel superior or even good about ourselves. We do it when we can’t survive without knowing what is buried way way down at our very core. And that only comes from desperation.


When we have known ourselves in our least favorable aspects, we can understand what it is to hurt and still try to go on. We now that life isn’t pretty or neat or manicured. We know our own Inner Jerk so that when we see another’s, we just smile and think, “I’ve been there, too.”


 If anyone else had lived your life, she would understand the decisions you’ve made. Your choices would seem reasonable. She could empathize with your struggle. And so it is with others you meet. If you had lived their experience, you probably would make the same decisions they did. Perhaps your challenges haven’t been as daunting as theirs or perhaps your supports have been stronger.


Judging anyone else reflects our own lack of self knowledge. And judging ourselves reflects our own lack of empathy and acceptance for ourselves. We are not here to judge anyone. Life is to be experienced. Lessons are to be learned and integrated. We are challenged to be our own best friend. And when we do that, we see what it is to be human.



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