On The Benefit of the Doubt

How easy it is to assume we know why people do what they do.

We see an action or hear some words, our minds tell a story, and instantly we assume we know what’s what.

But this trips us up more than we know. Because what we’re actually seeing when we’re looking at someone isn’t coming from their intent, motive or backstory.

It’s coming from our thinking in the moment, always.

So really what we’re seeing is our own projection, our own reality, our own ideas… we’re not seeing people as they are, we’re seeing them as we are.

Which is why giving people the benefit of the doubt is so crucial. We’re never perceiving them as these solid, stable objects with clear cut motives… that’s just the story our mind is telling.

I saw this so clearly at a holiday party last night.

So many people, some I loved, some I didn’t understand, some I was annoyed by, some I was grateful to reconnect with.

But none of that was coming from them, all of it was coming from my mind and how I’m relating to it in the moment.

The person who annoyed me is someone my mind is playing a story of annoyance and injustice about and I’m buying into it hook line and sinker.

The people I loved were people I was seeing with innocence and purity. I naturally gave them the benefit of the doubt, I didn’t indulge my mind if and when it tried to assign meaning behind their actions.

The people I didn’t understand were people I tried to see with interest and curiosity. I was less interested in what my mind said about them and more interested in what I can see if I show up fresh: what’s there when I’m in this moment, not in my thinking about this moment?

The people I was grateful to reconnect were simply people who I saw beauty and goodness in. I relaxed into the moment with them and was grateful for the natural connection between us when we’re not indulging our personal thinking.

I definitely don’t always give people the benefit of the doubt. I get caught up in my stories, convinced by the grand illusion of consciousness and bought into my ideas at times.

It’s totally human, normal and nothing to beat ourselves up about!

But the beauty of life is found in being in life, not in our minds.

Giving people the benefit of the doubt, going back to the freshness of the unknown and being willing to be wrong about our assumptions, ideas and beliefs about someone is where freedom is found.

Freedom to discover something new.

Freedom to experience life fresh.

Freedom to be in the moment instead of thinking about it.

That’s something we can all benefit from.