Why do we judge ourselves by our intentions but judge others by their actions?

Whenever we hear some form of bad news about how so and so did such and such, after our initial reactions we begin judging those people. Why did they do it? What was their motivation? Were they forced to do it? Did they do it of their own volition? Did they think they could get away with it? Yes we judge people by their actions a lot, be it a co-worker, our teachers, our parents, our bosses, the one stranger who is always staring at us in a train, judge, judge, judge.

And what about ourselves? Well yes we do judge ourselves as well, but most of the time we judge ourselves based on our intentions. Why haven’t I gone to buy more groceries? Because I intend to later. Why don’t I exercise more to lose weight? Well I intend to eat less so I should be fine. Why do I keep playing games and not study harder to get better grades for college? Well, I don’t intend to go to college, I intend to become a professional gamer.

We judge others based on their actions(what they do) all the time, but when it comes to ourselves, it’s always based on our intentions. Why? Why not judge ourselves on our actions too? Why don’t we judge others based on their intentions?

Well, for me the answer is obvious, it’s because we know exactly what we are thinking. We know exactly what our intentions are behind every action we do, whether it is out of kindness, irritation, desire, greed and so on. Thus we judge ourselves based on our intentions since for us they hold more weight.

When it comes to other people though, we can only observe their actions, thus we judge them based on what we can observe and know. Why don’t we judge others based on their intentions? Well, you can’t go around asking everyone you meet what their intentions were behind their actions. If you did, one of five things would happen:

  1. They wouldn’t tell you.

  2. They would tell you.

  3. They would lie about their intentions because they don’t want to share.

  4. They would ignore you.

  5. They would look at you like you were weird and try to get away from you.

So no, we can’t find out what other people’s intentions are all the time, which leaves us with no other choice but to judge by their actions.

Of course, there will be times when a person’s intentions are completely different from their actions, like when someone pretends to betray their team to infiltrate the enemy and then sabotage them. Or when someone acts nice when they just intend to use them for their own ends.

But we can’t read people’s minds and so we fall to observing their actions, the only thing we can observe, and judge them based on that.

Would we judge people based on their intentions if we could? Probably!

But until we either all learn how to read each other’s minds or everyone starts only telling the truth about what they’re doing and why, and how they feel, we’ll just have to stick with what we have.

Well, that’s it for this post. I hope you liked it and I hope you have a good day ahead.

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