Now, I've been around a lot of people who criticize a lot. It's a habit I can't stand. Everyone is always fighting a battle you know nothing about. You never know what someone is going through. It doesn't matter what the situation is. There's usually a backstory you aren't aware of.
Many people judge too quickly. They usually don't even mean to - it's just a habit. I've learned a few ways to condition yourself to give people the benefit of the doubt.
1. Read a lot of novels.
This may seem like a strange one, but it can work. Reading novels gives you points of view from lots of different people. It doesn't matter if they're fictional. It gives you insight to how other people feel and think and why they do some of the things they do. Things that real people really might do for similar reasons. After a while you might find yourself automatically trying to come up with reasons for why people do the things they do, whether it's strangers or people you know.
2. Read quotes and phrases about kindness.
There are a lot on Pinterest and Google. Reading quotes and phrases about kindness and giving the benefit of the doubt has always inspired me.
I also like Brandon Heath's song - Give Me Your Eyes So I Can See:
Now, I am not saying that nothing is the way it seems. Sometimes there is no better explanation for the things that people do. And I personally know that when it comes to people you know, giving the benefit of the doubt is not always an option. If you know the person, then you generally know what's behind their actions, the way they think and feel. There may not always be a good explanation for what someone does.
Thing is - and I have been trying to teach certain people this for a very long time - criticizing doesn't help. That's one of the things most people don't realize. When you criticize people, you aren't defining them - you're defining yourself. There are going to be plenty of people in the world that you don't like. That's inevitable. But the thing is, if you start bashing people behind their backs, it's not going to effect that person's reputation, it'll effect yours. In the eyes of your friends you might be the one at fault.
As Christians I believe we should be the light of the world. That's the whole point of being a Christian. Your actions should reflect Jesus in every way possible - after all, He is the kindest, most forgiving person there is. There's already too much poverty and violence. People die every day. The world doesn't need to be made worse.
Sometimes there are no better explanations for a person's behavior. Sometimes we should accept that. But criticizing doesn't help anything. Some people say it makes them feel better. I can understand that - sometimes you get in that mode where you're just mad and you want someone to blame it on. But here's the thing - it's not worth it.
This isn't to say we can never be mad at anyone. Oh no. Anger can be justified, believe me. Especially in relationships. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt or forgiving them countlessly gets old fast. If the person you're dating/married to is cheating on you, don't just forgive them like that - get out of that relationship. If they didn't want you and only you for life, they shouldn't have told you they did.
Another thing a lot of people don't realize - forgiving someone doesn't mean letting them get away with something. That's not at all what it means. I know it's hard to believe. When you think the word 'forgive' you automatically think that you're letting the person get away with something. That's the instant definition. But forgiving someone just means you're not going to let your grudge bury you anymore. Doesn't mean you ever have to see or talk to that person again. Doesn't mean you have to be buddies with 'em. Ever hear the phrase 'Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself'? It's true. Holding a steadfast grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It's slowly killing you, burying you deeper and deeper in anger, while they're just sitting fine and dandy, letting you eat yourself away.
Again. Doesn't mean you have to be friends with them. Heck, you can live on the other side of the world from them if you want. Just don't be simmering in anger the whole time. It doesn't do any good.
Now, if you're a more logical person like me, that's what'll help you. Knowing that it simply, logically, doesn't do any good to hate that person. They're thinking, "So what? I don't care." So it doesn't do any good. You want to get under their skin, frustrate them? Then forgive them. People live off others' anger. If they know they're affecting you negatively, they like it. So forgive them, play nice, and it'll drive 'em crazy.
Don't forgive and forget - just forgive.