“In order to understand any man, one must be deliberate and careful to avoid forming prejudices and mistaken ideas, which are very difficult to correct and get over afterwards”. These wise words from the protagonist’s mother, Pulcheria Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment can teach us much. Could it be that your opinions are much more about projecting your feelings than a genuine attempt at understanding?
Projecting your feelings
How we view someone can be distorted by all manner of things. Things that often have nothing to do with the person, but everything to do with you. We each view the world through the lens of our own experience.
As such, projecting your feelings and ideas on to others can happen very easily, especially if you are not vigilant of your own mind. And, your ideas and feelings may have no connection to the other whatsoever. You might only be seeing yourself in the mirror of their presence. So, one might call someone an angry or hateful person, not noticing the anger they carry in their own heart.
We might also be too quick to issue judgement. To criticise and condemn before taking the time to really understand. This is exactly what Pulcheria Raskolnikov is warning against. The hasty and ill-considered opinion that does a gross injustice to the individual. That betrays a lack of humility in he who rushes forth with judgement.
Our minds are fickle and tricky customers. Once we have formed a hasty view of someone, it can be very difficult to change. So, we owe it to our fellow beings to act with care. Afterall, isn’t that how you would wish to be treated?
Furthermore, it is one thing to intuit something about a person as an area to be explored. It is quite another to make a final judgement without full consideration and evidence. And, it is humility that allows us to proceed with care. The humility to recognise the difficulty in truly understanding the mind of another. For, how can you be so sure about knowing someone, when you do not even really know yourself?
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.