In your daily life, you often encounter situations where you witness people making poor decisions. Or engaging in actions that you find distasteful. It's natural to react with judgment or disapproval.

But instead of reacting, you can use these experiences as opportunities for growth and self-improvement. By observing and analyzing the actions of others, you can learn valuable lessons about yourself. And develop better strategies for navigating similar situations in the future.

Observing Without Judgment

The Power of Observation

The first step in learning from poor actions is to observe without judgment. This is harder than it sounds.

In fact, what might happen is your internal reaction of like or dislike. Sure, you have already judged and that's okay. Now, you can file this away as something that rubbed you in the wrong fashion. Something to take note of.

Touring NYC
Photo by Frederick Marschall / Unsplash

And then recognising that everyone makes mistakes. It's important to separate the action from the person. By focusing on the behaviour rather than the individual, you can gain a clearer understanding of what went wrong and why it happened.
And what you'd like to do in that situation.

Emotional Distance

It's important to maintain emotional distance when observing poor actions. This allows you to objectively assess the situation without being influenced by your feelings or biases. Of course, when you are involved in the situation, it might be more challenging to maintain this emotional distance. Which is why you end up saying or doing silly things that you regret. However, by stepping back and viewing the situation as an outsider, you can gain valuable insights into how you might react in similar circumstances.

And thus, the best place to learn it is in situations where you are the outsider.

Identifying the Lesson

What Not to Do

One of the primary lessons to be learned from observing poor actions is understanding what not to do in a given situation. By witnessing the negative consequences of someone else's behaviour, you can identify the pitfalls to avoid when faced with similar challenges. This knowledge can then be used to inform your own decision-making processes.

Empathy and Compassion

When you witness someone making a poor decision or engaging in negative behaviour, it can also serve as a reminder to practice empathy and compassion. By putting yourself in their shoes and considering the factors that may have contributed to their actions, you can better understand their motivations and struggles. This can help you develop greater tolerance and compassion for others.

The monkey was absolutely mesmerized by his own image in the mirror. I took a few different photos of this monkey playing with the mirror on my scooter at a location called Monkey Hill in Thailand. The monkey was so gentle and was really happy to stare at his own image. I wonder if the monkey knew it was his own reflection or if he thought it was another monkey.
Photo by Andre Mouton / Unsplash

And towards you when you inevitably fuck up.

Self-Reflection and Personal Growth

Examining Our Own Reactions

Besides to observing the actions of others, it's essential to take a closer look at your own reactions to their behaviour. Our emotional responses can provide valuable insights into your own values, beliefs, and areas for growth.

For example, if you find yourself becoming upset or judgmental when witnessing someone else's mistake, it may be an sign that you need to work on your own ability to forgive and let go. And/or you are guilty of a similar mistake, which is why it rankles more.

Identifying Areas for Improvement

By analyzing your reactions to the poor actions of others, you can also identify areas in your own life where you may need to make changes or improvements. For example, if you find yourself irritated by others who display a lack of organization or time management skills, it may be a sign that you need to work on developing those skills yourself.

For me, every time I coach someone on their training or nutrition, I learn a lot about what I can add to my personal journey. Because I learn from their behaviour or difficulty, and what my recommendation would be. And I'd see where I am being too critical of my own behaviour. As well as where I am making fundamental errors and being blind to them.

Applying the Lessons Learned

Notes for Future Situations

Once you have identified the lessons to be learned from observing poor actions, it's important to make a mental note of these insights so that you can apply them in future situations.

She writes poems.
Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado / Unsplash

I like to go one better and write these down in my journal. By keeping these lessons in mind, you can be better prepared to navigate similar challenges and make more informed decisions.

It might seem crude or asshole-ish to note down other people's bad behaviour, instead of your own. That's not what I mean here.

Your imperfect behaviour could be in a blind spot of yours. Which might make it hard for you to capture in the immediate aftermath.

It is far easier to capture what grates you about an action you see. And then dig deeper into the why and what, and write a lesson for yourself.

Practising Mindfulness and Self-Awareness

To effectively apply the lessons learned from observing poor actions, it's essential to practice mindfulness and self-awareness. By staying present and aware of our emotions, thoughts, and actions, you can more easily recognize when we're faced with a situation that calls for the application of these lessons. This heightened awareness can help you make better choices and avoid falling into the same traps as those you have observed.

For me, a lot of this happens only after the fact. Almost all of this happens when I put myself in the right space and read my journals.

But thanks to my regular practice of mindfulness meditation, I have become more self-aware of the feelings that arise when I have these reflexive negative reactions. And as often as possible, I attempt to log it in. Previously, I would be critical of the other person. Or critical of myself for being critical of the other person.

Encouraging Positive Change in Others

Leading by Example

One of the most effective ways to encourage positive change in others is by leading by example. By demonstrating the positive behaviours and decision-making strategies that you've learned through your observations, you can inspire those around us to follow suit.

This affirms your change in behaviours as well. Coupled with a truly non-judgmental attitude, you can truly inspire the others around you. Because your actions do speak loudly.

Offering Support and Guidance

When appropriate, you can also offer support and guidance to those who may be struggling with their own poor actions. By sharing your insights and experiences, you can help others recognize the negative consequences of their behaviour and encourage them to make positive changes.

And that's my reason for writing this post.

With mindfulness meditation and therapy, there is a lot of difficult stuff to wade through. And one of them was how judgmental I can get. How I seem to have an opinion on a lot of things that others do. And how that was neither helping me nor them.

The deeper problem was I am exponentially more judgmental of myself.
But because these are reflexive and faster than I can process, I am often left with the downstream thoughts and feelings without an understanding of what led to them.

Which meant there was no way for me to treat myself with empathy or understanding.

To change, I need to change how I treat myself. And that's been the work I've started to do.

Conclusion: Embracing the Opportunity for Growth

Learning from the poor actions of others presents a unique opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement. By observing without judgment, identifying the lessons to be learned, and applying these insights in our own lives, we can become better equipped to navigate the challenges we face and foster positive change in ourselves and those around us.

So the next time you witness a negative behaviour or poor decision, remember to ask yourself, "What can I learn from this?" and use the experience as an opportunity for growth.