Have you ever looked into a window when sunlight hits it at a specific angle, and it starts to function like a two-way mirror? You can’t looking through it, you can only see reflections of yourself. Sometimes I’ve been caught off guard and I started inspecting myself, making strange faces into the glass – only to get a little closer and realize there was a person there the whole time, looking at me. They thought I was making faces at them – I was only looking at myself.
I think this is how a lot of people (and myself) function when they look at strangers. Their ego is like a sunblinded pane of glass, abstracting their gaze. When they look out into the world, at other people, they are really looking at themselves. So when someone sees the judgmental gaze of a stranger, it’s not them the stranger is looking at.
I wonder what that person things of me…
He reminds me of someone.
That guy makes me sick!
Even straight judgments are subjective. If I am internally criticizing someone because of what they are wearing or doing – a big part of that is related to my own history, what I think is appropriate or inappropriate, or what it reminds me of based on my associations.
Maybe that person giving you a mean, sideways glance is really just looking at their own memories. Maybe that scoff you received on the bus was from someone scoffing at an association of their own husband’s actions. You are not who is being judged – and with time, anyone can look through their own glass a little closer, and see who is really there.