How assumptions about a person can do more harm than good

The Chinese drama All Is Well has captured the attention of many Chinese viewers. The most discussed character has been Mingzhe, the oldest brother in the show, who went back home to help his father and siblings after his mother died. With a bachelor from Qinghua, a graduate degree from Stanford, a green card in the US, a decent job and a happy family, he’s undoubtedly his family’s pride and joy.

However, beneath the surface lies a vain, selfish and arrogant person whose personality has burdened his family more than it has helped. Mingzhe would take family matters into his own hands even though he was ill-equipped to deal with them and would do whatever his father asked no matter how unreasonable the request. His need to be a bigshot has even forced his wife to cover for him to keep up appearances. Naturally, this has left his family a mess.

Letting someone like Mingzhe in your life would be unfortunate. On the surface, everything is fine. But dig deeper and it’s like the scene of a car accident. To avoid people like this, don’t be blinded by the superficial. To understand a person fully, we need to understand how they were raised.

When we meet a person, we are also meeting their family

Much like Mingzhe, a person’s views and values are usually shaped by how they were raised. Growing up, Mingzhe’s mother was the head of the household and his father lived in her shadow. In Mingzhe’s own family, he seemed to play a similar role, but looking closer, it was all just a show. When things got difficult, it was his wife who came to the rescue.

British psychologist John Bowlby pointed out that the way a person interacts with their partner can be attributed to a child’s early experiences with his or her parents, thus having a profound impact on their relationship skills and styles as an adult.

Mingzhe grew up as the oldest son spoiled by his mother. As long as his grades were good, nothing else mattered. For him, the love he received came too easily making him self-centered. As such, he got used to the fact that his family sacrificed for him and never had to think about how his actions affected others. This was the downside of growing up in a family where men were valued over women.

So I can’t marry a person just because his family isn’t that great?

Of course not.

George Bonnano, an American psychologist, pointed out that resilience is the ability of individuals exposed to a potentially highly disruptive event to maintain both healthy psychological and physical functioning and the capacity for positive emotions. So, it is more important to recognize a person’s ability to recover from a highly disruptive event than to assume that the person does not have that ability to do so.

The youngest daughter in the show, Mingyu, is a good example. Under the scrutiny and pressure of her mother, she became more mature. She didn’t give up after being forced to attend a school she didn’t want to attend and carved out a successful life. She fought with her brothers and parents and ended up leaving the family. Through those tumultuous years, she became a better version of herself.

Throw those assumptions away to better know a person

Every individual is complex, yet we make assumptions about them based on first appearances. “We are just trying to be efficient!” does not justify that.

Having preconceived notions about a person is actually a toxic process and is not objective at all. Some examples would be: Graduating from a good school will result in a better future, coming from a divorced family will result in psychological instability and the list goes on. The experiences of an individual are what shapes them. To really know a person deeply, we must be as objective as possible. Talk to them, get to know their upbringing, their hobbies, their likes and dislikes, and what kind of people they surround themselves with. Being objective will help you change your perceptions of others instead of making false assumptions.

Throwing away your assumptions about a person would then help you uncover a person’s true self and help you to develop a deeper, stable and more meaningful relationship.

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