‘What other people think of me is none of my business.’
I had a lovely day out this weekend with friend. Although we have known each other for years we generally socialise at one another’s houses, where my mobility restrictions are not an issue.
We drove up to the venue we were visiting and asked for directions to disabled parking. The attendant replied ‘it’s for people who are disabled’. Umm yes, that would be me, with my badge clearly on display on my dashboard which I showed him. He then tried to stick his head through the open window and aggresively enquired where my wheelchair was. After pointing out my crutches he reluctantly let us through the gate.
At the other end was a gentleman directing cars into spaces. I politely asked if we could park on the space at the end or on the row near the entrance. No, we were (impolitely) told to drive to the other side of the field when there were nearer spaces.
My friend, by now, was quite upset. ‘Why is everyone so rude to you?’
It’s because many people make instant judgements. I don’t look like they think a ‘disabled’ person should look. I am not old (enough), physically deformed, there is nothing glaringly obviously wrong with me when you look at me. I make people uncomfortable. They don’t understand what they can’t see and therefore make snap decisions, there is nothing wrong with me, I am probably just lazy wanting to park nearer. How dare I?
When we got out of the car and headed towards the entrance the same attendant was totally different. He became really friendly and apologetic. Is this because he could see my crutches then, my obvious discomfort, something tangible he could understand?
It was interesting to witness the reaction of my friend in various situations throughout the day. I don’t generally notice the judgements of others any more. I am not sure whether it is through my mindfulness practice enabling to consciously see the judgements of others and not attach to them or whether I have had so many years now of peoples reactions I am just immune to them. I no longer let the actions of others dictate how my day goes. I can’t choose what others think or say but I can choose the way I react and feel, and this with compassion, both towards them and myself.
We all, often subconsciously, make judgements, an event happens, a person acts and we immediately label it as good, bad, right, wrong, better or worse. My challenge to you is to try to notice your judgements over the next 24 hours and see if you can suspend them. Let things be exactly as they are without the need for labels. I would love to hear how you get on.