Giving people the benefit of the doubt

For the longest time I hid my depression and the demons I battle every day. There were lots of reasons why I did, especially not wanting to face people’s judgment, biases and perceptions about mental health disorders. Could it cost me a job? Because I hate to say that has indeed happened to me. Could it mean the end of a romantic relationship? Unfortunately, that too has happened to me.

The result is people may not have known why I acted a certain why. They didn’t know the whole story. And guess what? People are still going to pass judgment, which is even worse when they don’t have all the facts.

Doing what I do for a living, I see people pass judgment on people every day. The reality is they only know a tiny sliver of the story for lots of different reasons. We may know the who, what, where, when, how, but rarely do we know why, or at least all of the why. A girl who seems to have it all runs away from home, faking her abduction. I don’t see a girl who deserves to be punished. I see a girl who may need help because I don’t know the whole story.

It’s really giving people the benefit of the doubt.

It can be hard when someone is doing something “crazy” to just dismiss it as they’re having a bad day or that there’s something bugging them. It’s much easier to judge and get angry about how someone treats you. But then you’re ignoring that you don’t have all the facts. I know people have made judgments on my life without knowing all the facts or even asking me about them. They jump to conclusions. And it can be hurtful.

I’ve worked hard to give people the benefit of the doubt and to not jump to conclusions because I want the same done for me. I have my down days and get cranky and can snap at people. I want people to be sympathetic to my moods and struggles, so why shouldn’t I do the same for them?

And isn’t that what we should do in a caring community? Whether we’re talking about a geographical community of neighbors or a community of people interested in the same things, aren’t we all supposed to support each other? We need more of that, especially in harder times.

So think hard about when someone snaps at you at work. Maybe they’re having a bad day and their attitude has nothing to do with you. And think about how they’d feel if you offered them a caring word, asking how they’re doing. Think how you’d feel if they did the same for you.


About Jen

Jen is a social media producer and a local journalist at heart. When not trying to take over the journalism world she writes, takes lots of photos and roots on her beloved New York Rangers and Mets.


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