How can we improve our personal growth? By not being so judgmental.
Let’s face it. We all feel superior. We feel that our culture and our ways are better than all others and we look down our noses at other ways of doing things. Admit it, we all do.
Why? Because we feel comfortable with our way of doing things. We were taught the way to do it or discovered our way of doing it and therefore, that is the RIGHT way to do it. Everyone else is silly or stupid because they don’t do it our way.
Well, living in another country has taught me that I don’t always know the best way of doing things. What I found out is that you should first watch, then ask, then try, and then decide.
When my daughter was a small baby of about two months old, I was walking in the neighborhood, slipped on loose gravel, and went down with her in my arms. I put out my elbow since I couldn’t let go of her, and my elbow took the brunt of the fall. However, her forehead lightly brushed the ground and everyone from the neighborhood came running. Being that they were all Costa Ricans and speaking Spanish and I had only been in the country a short time, I had no idea what was being said. One of the ladies went running into her house and came back with a jar of honey. I looked at her as if she were nuts while she put honey on my daughter’s forehead. Knowing that the honey would do no harm, I allowed it, but really did think they were crazy. Later, it was explained to me that honey keeps the swelling down, reduces bruising, and is a natural antiseptic. I googled it, and yep, it really is. Good stuff. But there I was judging something that I didn’t understand. Had she been standing there with hydrogen peroxide or an antiseptic spray, I would have never thought about it.
When I built my house in Costa Rica, I insisted on wooden baseboards and our gypsum ceilings, both to save costs and because it was what I was accustomed to. Luckily, one of the ladies explained to me that since we have to mop to clean the floors, the baseboards would get wet and nasty and that the bugs in Costa Rica love to get into the wood and eat it away. She suggested putting a baseboard of the same ceramic tile and she was exactly right. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask for advice on the ceiling and we’ve had to repair it several times as it just doesn’t work well in the humidity and with the movement from the earthquakes. My superior thinking just didn’t allow me to consider other options.
Over the years, it has been a process of give and take. I have shown the lady who helps me deep clean my house a few things and she has taught me way more. We come down to Costa Rica thinking we can help or maybe just enjoy the lifestyle. Very quickly, we get frustrated because things aren’t done in our ways. We try to help and show them how things can be done better. And in many ways, we do help… a lot. I know that in Atenas, we have put on a lot of events to raise money for charities and to help the community. The locals see this and have commented about how great this is and as a consequence, I’ve seen other groups start to try to discover solutions rather than just asking the government to fix it. I’ve seen growth in the arts since I had the community center, Su Espacio, 15 years ago. Now, Su Espacio no longer exists, but there is a new dance studio with far more students than I ever imagined and it is run by young ticos.
From traveling around the world, I like to think I have adapted little pieces from many of the cultures I have visited. I have selected those things that I thought were great and even better than I would have normally done and incorporated them in little ways into my daily life. I have simplified my life in some ways and enriched it in others. I find it hard to see things in black and white anymore, everything is in a different shade of gray.
To grow as individuals, we have to stop being so judgmental and be open to new options in our lives as well as knowing when we may not have the solutions to all of the answers. You must experience the unknown and the uncomfortable. It is something I work on daily in Costa Rica, but I think it’s also something that can be taken and used within our own culture. Even within our own culture, we are quick to judge others and I think it leads to much of the discomfort and anger that we see within the United States. So, maybe we can take that same thought process and apply it everywhere: watch, ask, try, and then decide.
As a side note, in the university, I had to read a book called, “The Rise and Fall of Nations” (amazing that I still remember the name of it). Interestingly enough, it actually dealt with the same issue but at a country level. Once a country who is more advanced, stops improving and stops learning, because it feels it is the “best”, and other countries who are still struggling to figure out better ways to compete advance, you see the fall of the great nation and the rise of the other. I think for us as individuals to continually grow, we also have to keep challenging ourselves and stop thinking we are superior. Constant innovation is what it is all about. Stop judging and start growing.
Tina Newton is a Realtor in Atenas, Costa Rica, and owner of Tristan & Newton Real Estate. She is there to help you in all of your real estate and non-real estate decisions. Any questions about moving to Costa Rica are welcome. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the website at www.tnrealestatecr.com as well as on Facebook.