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Things I've realised about people

These observations have proven true for me. They’re mostly about people.

The same, in a different way

Take any human character trait. Smart, stupid, easy-going, stubborn, kind, cruel. Anything.

Every person on the planet has that trait, even if it’s in a different way to other people. Every person is kind in some way and cruel in another way. Smart in some way and stupid in another way.

It’s not valid to call one person “smart” and another person “stupid” without context, because each person is both smart and stupid, in a different way.

Contradiction is natural

Hypocrisy is the ultimate injustice in some people’s eyes. They’re furious when a politician thinks we should all act in a certain way, but doesn’t act that way themselves.

It doesn’t bother me. It’s perfectly possible to believe that drugs are bad and be addicted to drugs at the same time.

Any time you are in two minds about something, you contradict yourself. You want to eat chocolate cake because it’s delicious, and you don’t want to eat chocolate cake because it’s fattening.

People who contradict themselves aren’t evil. They’re people.

Many causes

Unless a cause is obvious—the vase is broken because it was dropped on the floor—it’s often the case that something was caused by lots of things, not one big thing.

There’s no one cause for high crime rates, or low unemployment. There’s no one reason that you feel tired today, and didn’t yesterday. Don’t look for one cause. You probably won’t find it.

Accept that some things are caused by many things, and some of those causes are hard to know.

They had a good reason

Unless someone is mentally unwell, there’s a reason for each of their actions, decisions, and beliefs.

More importantly, that reason is good as far as they are concerned, and it was probably important to them. In some cases they won’t be aware of the reason they did something, but it’s still a good reason.

Questions like “How could anyone think this is a good idea?” are not useful. They had a good reason to do it. Focus your energy on what their reasons were.

Misunderstood, not malicious

Very few people intend to be malicious. It’s much more likely that the person misunderstands you, or you misunderstand the person. Until they confirm that they did it because they wanted to hurt you, it’s better to accept that you don’t understand why they did it.

Change comes from within

Generally people change because they want to change. This means you cannot change a person, but perhaps you can teach or show them something that will make them want to change themselves.