An extra shot or I shot the sheriff

You don’t need to go any further than your local coffee shop. The guy in-line with dreadlocks and smelling of patchouli is a total “stoner.” The barista with gauges and tattoos is a “slacker.” The guy dressed all in black, blogging furiously on his MacBook and giving you the elevator and scowling at you is “judgmental.” The women laughing and chatting lightly, both with infants in their arms are “lazy” and should get a “real job.” The guy arguing with his wife in the corner of the porch is “miserable” in his marriage. Latte in hand and feeling better than everyone else you’ve seen and better than when you got there, you stroll out the door and head to your extraordinarily important day.

What have you missed? Quite possibly everything. Using one word to summarize anyone tells you next to nothing. It’s only your judgment. What might happen if you went back inside and stopped to chat with each person? The “stoner” might be a very kind father, taking a break from making his documentary on societal inequality. The barista might be a PhD student scraping her tips together in hopes of going on an archeological dig in the Middle East. The “judgmental” blogger giving you the elevator and scowling might be frustrated as he’s studying for his MCATs and feeling overwhelmed as he rehearses what he’s trying to memorize. The “lazy” mother? Let’s not even go there. And the “miserable” man and wife might be grief-filled due to the death of his father. As you learn these things, you’ll see them as more than one adjective and your judgment will likely fall away.

So what about you? Do you use single, negative words to describe yourself? Sure, we all have negative words we use to drag us down. On our most difficult days, we are things like “stupid,” “fat,” “skinny,” “lazy,” or any of countless other negative words. As with your new friends in the coffee shop, when you notice that you’re using these single, negative words, stop, take a deep breath, and have a conversation with yourself that reminds you of all that is good about you. Then go on with your day.

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