I have been thinking about hypocrisy today.
It’s been a huge thing in the news lately, it’s something we use to beat down those we disagree with, and a LOT of what I was taught in behavioral psychology was about cognitive dissonance, the backflips the mind goes through when we hold two opposing ideas. One of the worst things you can call someone is a hypocrite, and I know people who gleefully point out the hypocrisy of people they don’t like just to watch them squirm.
But. What if we think about it in a different way? What if, as part of loving everyone, we assume positive intent about people and their hypocrisy is a case of them just not living up to the ideal version of themselves they want to be?
We all have failings. We don’t follow through 100% on every promise. We don’t fulfill every request from the people in our lives. We all see ourselves as the hero of our stories, but sometimes we’re the fool, sometimes we’re the bystander and sometimes (hopefully rarely) we’re the antagonist in someone’s personal story.
Instead of instantly jumping to the attach when someone’s words don’t match up with their actions, think to yourself about things YOU say about yourself that you are trying to live up to. I see myself as a kind person, but I’ll bet you don’t have to look too far to find someone who sees me as opportunistic or manipulative. I know a person who holds her friends to incredibly high moral standards, but has had affairs during different periods in her marriage.
Hell, I once had a friend who was a living embodiment of this, and I learned early on that the only way I could stay friends with them was to realize that they had a highly inflated version of themselves that they could never live up to. I accepted them and forgave them when they would speak with massive hypocrisy.
I always see the ones I love as their best selves, even if they don’t.
We can attack and tear them down, or, we can give them what we would want if we fall short of our internal standards. Understanding. I often say I don’t have goals and resolutions, because they invite failure, and it is the same with these things. If we flip it from being mad at someone’s hypocrisy to understanding it’s a case of them not living up to their ideal of themselves, it’s easier to forgive and understand.
Much love to friends old and new, and I hope you are able to forgive those who don’t live up to their perfect version of themselves.