How many times have we heard someone say, “he’s so manipulative” or “she’s so bossy”? We’re trying to make sense of others’ behaviors; and when we do, we often blame or label others in a negative way. We’re not even labeling their behavior – we’re labeling them.
In reality, all (well, maybe mostly all) behavior is functional.
We are trying to:
- Meet a need
- Solve a problem, or
- Express an emotion
When we take time to understand the reason behind others’ behavior, we increase our ability to empathize with them. We might be able to understand where they’re coming from, or at least appreciate the legitimate need they are trying to meet.
This applies to ourselves as well. We can often be our own harshest critic, pushing ourselves to do better and berating ourselves for not doing enough. When we realize that we’re just trying to meet our own needs, we can have self-compassion and find a more helpful way to meet that need.
Try to see beyond the behavior today.