“You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.”
Sean’s words dug into Will. The normally cocky, confident main character of Good Will Hunting was reduced to silence in an instant.
This is a quote from, you guessed it, Good Will Hunting.
In the story, Will is basically a mathematical genius who keeps getting into trouble with the law. To appease the judge, Will starts seeing a psychologist who will hopefully help him turn his life around.
The problem is, the first time Will and Sean (played by Robin Williams) meet, Will decides to rip Sean’s entire life apart because of a painting Sean drew.
Sean, like all the other psychologists who have seen Will, could decide to forget him and never talk to him again, but instead, he decides to keep seeing Will — and he’s pretty adamant about it, too.
The next day Sean tells Will that he’s just a scared shitless kid when it comes down to it, and Will doesn’t say a word because he knows it’s true.
It’s one of the greatest scenes in movie history.
After this scene, Will and Sean go on to have a great relationship, and Sean finally gets to the root problem of what makes Will so defensive and cocky.
Sean could’ve given up on Will. He could’ve decided to never talk with him again after Will misjudged him, but Sean decided to stick it out. He decided to keep showing him who he was. He didn’t give up.
Imagine what would’ve happened if he did give up?
When Someone Misjudges You, Keep Showing Them Who You Are
Making mistakes is inevitable. You know what else is inevitable? Someone misjudging your character because of a mistake, something you said, or in some cases no reason at all.
You must admit you misjudge people too, based on a limited sample size.
This isn’t even a bad thing when people do it to you. Why?
Because you know what your character is.
I could end the article right here and say you don’t need to give a single rats behind what the other person thinks and go your own way, but instead I’ll suggest a different approach, the one Sean took, that puts a little good out into the world by default.
Keep showing them who you are.
Let me explain that.
It Doesn’t Hurt To Be More Kind
My friend Michael Thompson once tweeted something like “stop feeling sorry for yourself and go do something kind for somebody.”
Should we stop being kind to the people who have misjudged us? Most people would. Should we stop talking to them? Some people would.
Sean could’ve with Will, but he didn’t.
Why not be kind to them instead? You could make the argument that those people need your kindness more than the others. Didn’t Will?
If You’re A Genuinely Good Person, They Will See That Eventually
Just recently I made a mistake which had a lot of people questioning my character. That’s fine. I obviously don’t want them to think I’m a bad person, so I decided to get even more involved with them and try to help even more.
This can be a weird road to go down because some people, no matter what you do, no matter if you cured cancer, they still wouldn’t like you. They would still be suspicious of your intentions.
Your goal is to prove yourself to the overwhelming majority of people. Prove yourself to so many people that the select few who still think you’re the spawn of Satan will seem delusional as hell.
I forget what psychological rule that states humans tend to internalize the first thing they get exposed to about something. For instance, if your first day talking to the locals in Germany was horrific, it’s hard for you to change your opinion about German people, because that was your first experience with them.
It is similarly hard to change people’s opinions, but it is not impossible.
This May Seem Naive
I fully admit this whole thing seems naive. It’s naive to think you can change people’s minds about you when they already have it so made up.
It can also be hard to change someone’s mind if they’re jealous of you or if they like to play the victim game. I understand that.
But just because it’s “naive” or just because that’s not the way human beings tend to behave doesn’t mean that’s not the right thing to do.
Do It Because It’s The Right Thing To Do
Don’t do this because you want to save face. Do this because it’s the right thing to do. Do it without any expectation of getting anything in return.
If You’re A Good Person, It Will Become Overwhelmingly Evident
If you’re a legitimately good person, it will become evident eventually.
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