Many dancers like to judge. We are quick to hand out honorary “asshole” cards to anyone we don’t like (or who doesn’t like us).

Why? Because we assume the other person has something against us. And because there could not possibly be any good reason for it, they must be an asshole.

Thing is, other people have problems. Their problems are not about you. You don’t even know what their problems are; how can you judge their actions? Do you want people judge your actions without knowing you? Give you the cold shoulder? Talk about you behind your back?

jerk center by sarah ackerman flickr

When you judge, you look at how a person is acting and assume you know why—despite the fact that you are not completely clued into their world. Or, if you do know about their problems superficially, you think they should respond in a certain way you can understand. If not, they’re an asshole, right?

You don’t need me to tell you this way of looking at others is egotistical and narcissistic. Hopefully this post will help you engage your empathy muscle more frequently.

Here’s my list of 5 more-than-worthy reasons you need to cut your fellow dancers some slack, starting right now:

Physical Health Problems

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and saw a dance friend was in the hospital. “Oh yeah, I forgot he had XYZ condition.”

Another friend, Cheryl Crow, deals with rheumatoid arthritis. Cheryl is very open about this. And yet, I just don’t think about it when I’m talking to her or see her dancing.

Most people aren’t shouting to the world about their health problems. And you won’t be able to guess what’s going on inside their bodies. When you ask them to dance, they’ll never say, “No thank you. I’m chronically constipated and really feeling it at this exact moment.”

pills by epsos de flickr

Do you want people to explain their health issues in excruciating detail when you ask them to dance? Definitely not!

Cut people some slack. Other people’s health problems (and how they choose to deal with them) are not about you.

Mental Health Problems

I was a massage therapist for 6 years. On my health intake form, there are a few lines where you list what medicine you’re taking and what it’s for. It never surprised me when clients had physical health problems that turned up in this section.

However, I was very surprised to learn that so many people take medication for depression and anxiety (amongst others). And by “so many people,” I mean young, healthy, active people. People I know and like.

These people are our friends, or they could be. Just like with physical health, you normally can’t tell from the outside whether someone is suffering from a mental health problem. Like any other problem, it’s none of your business. No one is required to explain their problems to you. And even if they choose to, it’s not your place to judge.

All too often, we see someone who looks aloof or closed off, and we assume they’re an asshole. Like they chose to be that way, just to be mean to us.

News flash: Other people’s mental health has nothing to do with you. Lots of people struggle with their thoughts, emotions, and brain chemistry, medicated or not.

Unless you are a close friend of theirs, you can’t possibly know what they are going through. Cut people some slack.

They May Be Overworked

Everyone knows what it’s like to be overworked. Maybe you’re pulling 12 hour days. Perhaps you’re juggling 4 different projects. Maybe your course load is crushing you this semester.

You know how many people are overworked right now? A lot.

Overworking can make a person tired, preoccupied, or anxious. And yet, others thrive with long hours. Everyone is able to handle different things. Cut people some slack.

Injuries

Dancers get injured for lots of different reasons. We deal with our injuries in many different ways.

Some people will entirely ignore the injury and dance all night. But a dancer could choose to only dance slow songs. Or only with certain people. Or only a limited number of dances per night. Or only certain types of moves. Or they might stay home.

injury by foxtongue flickr

Nursing an injury back to full functioning is tricky. One day you’re getting better, the next day you’re in agony again. It’s incredibly frustrating and disheartening to deal with.

A bad injury could have a very depressing effect on a dancer’s mood. Of course, if you’ve never had an injury that impacts your beloved hobby, you might not know the mental anguish it can cause.

How a dancer feels about and deals with an injury has nothing to do with you. You may be completely unaware of what they are going through. They are not required to explain their injuries to your satisfaction. Cut people some slack.

They Are Having a Bad Day/Month/Year

This one covers pretty much every other possible reason a dancer could be in a poor mood.

And guess what? If someone’s in a bad mood, it’s not your fault. You’re not the reason why that person appears to be testy, melancholy, distracted, bored, or angry.

They’re not irritated because you’re a new dancer and “not good enough.” They may not know how to have fun dancing with you yet, but that’s not your fault in the slightest.

Most likely, that poopy look on their face is completely unrelated. Cut people some slack.

Bottom Line

We’re all flawed. We don’t run around sharing our problems with everyone. And people deal with their issues in many different ways.

nutella by Rachel from Cupcakes Take the Cake flickr

You don’t know what other people are dealing with, do you? Let’s just be honest here. You really have NO IDEA.

Even if you do, you don’t get to decide how others should deal with their problems. It’s not your job to tell people how to fix their problems (start a blog if you want to do that). And it’s certainly not your job to be perfect so that others’ problems just magically disappear.

If other people don’t act how you want them to, LET IT GO. Next time you’re feeling judgey, assume the other person is dealing with a problem you don’t know about. Cut them some slack.

And most importantly, cut yourself some slack, too.

Where else can we cut our fellow dancers some slack? Leave a comment below!

Photo credits: Sarah Ackerman (jerk center), epSos.de (pills), Jhayne (injury), Rachel from Cupcakes Take the Cake (nutella)