Do This One Thing Before Judging Someone Who Annoys You (and See Yourself Shift!)

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By  | Tiny Buddha

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.” ~Stephen Covey

It happened again! A different place, a different person. But again, I was outraged! How could I let it go this time?


I was driving home from work, excited about the weekend. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, a bulky four-wheel drive gradually came closer. Next minute, it was right behind me. Another tailgater!

I sped up to shake it off. It stayed with me. I tapped the brake to tell the driver to back off. He came closer!

I was beginning to fume. As I was considering my next move, the car turned off. It was gone. I was left angry, fuming, and worked up.

This happened quite often. But would I ever learn to let it go?

Have you learned to let it go?

Many of us are doing our best to learn to be a better person—be kinder, more accepting, and more mindful, for instance. But when it comes to being less judgmental, it seems that we have a knee-jerk reaction that takes place on its own accord. 

It’s true that a certain part of it is due to conditioning and triggers. But if we begin to understand exactly why we judge, we can make space for acceptance and peace with others.


When we are annoyed or upset with someone, it can be explained by the fundamental attribution error. Attribution is when we try to understand the causes of behavior. The problem is that we make errors when we try to make sense of people’s behavior.

Simply put, when we see someone doing something wrong, we think it relates to their personality instead of the situation that the person is in.

“What a jerk!”

“How rude!”

“That is so inconsiderate!”

So how can we let it go? If we acknowledge our attribution errors that are judging personality alone, we can contemplate the situation. In my driving incident, perhaps this driver never tailgates. Maybe he had just been sacked at work, or had an emergency at home.

Wouldn’t you be more understanding then? I should have been, but I never put this idea into practice in my life.

But one day, I was driving to work when up ahead I saw a car slowing down for no apparent reason.

“Okay, what’s going on here?”

I was ready to place my attributions: “What a turkey…. How selfish… You are just a… a….”   … I stopped. It was an L plater. A learner. Oops.

I swallowed my outrage. I shut my mouth. I stayed calm and understanding.

And then it hit me. Aren’t we all L players—in life?

I knew that the person in front of me was an L plater learning to drive. The only difference with everybody else in the world is that we don’t know what they are learning. 

What was the tailgater learning about when he was on my tail? What were the teenagers learning about when they egged my car on Halloween? What was I learning about when I reacted?

We all have struggles. We all have a past. We all have a reason for who we are today. It just can’t be seen like an L plate can.

When people hurt you or do wrong, they are simply making mistakes and learning in their own way to get through life—the best way they have learned to do so with the life they have been given.

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