AlignMENt: Most People are not Bad, they are just Afraid

By Patrick Donohue

January 14, 2013

AlignMENt:  Most People are not Bad, they are just Afraid

Recently, I have been listening to an audiotape series called the Million Dollar Mind

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Most People are Afraid.

 and one phrase has really affected my life. The phrase is “Most people are not bad, they are just afraid.”  Wow!  That’s a game changer.  In life, we all see tons of behavior that is not appetizing, from cutting people off in traffic, to interrupting others, to gossiping, to making the same mistake over and over.  My natural tendency is to think “these people are idiots or bad people” and there is a small percentage where that would be correct. 

However, as I have taken a step back and reflected, I have come to realize that most people do not do silly or hurtful things because they are bad people, they do these things because they are afraid.  They are afraid of failure, afraid of loss, afraid of disappointing others and even afraid of success.  Fear is a tremendous driver of irrational and inexplicable behavior.

Now you might be thinking, hey Pat, your little theory about fear is nice, but aren’t people still doing the same “idiot behaviors”?  Yes, yes they are!!!  But, here’s the difference:  I have a lot more patience and grace for someone who is caught in fear, rather than just a bad person.

I have noticed in the last six weeks that I have become more patient and less judgmental as I have reflected on “most people are not bad, they are just afraid”.  This simple mindset shift has profound implications for our relationships with our spouses, children, friends and co-workers.  I have been able to let small slights, insensitive comments and even larger “silly behavior” go, rather than stewing in anger.

Fathers, this is huge with our children.  The #1 complaint about most men as fathers is that we are impatient.  Well, it is easy to be impatient when we are the “bad behavior” police.  Men, take a step back and realize that most people, including our children, act out of fear, rather than maliciousness.  This does not change the original behavior, but oh how it effects our reaction.

I challenge you to write down this phrase “Most people are not bad, they are just afraid” and put it where you can see it several times each day for the next seven days.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how your patience increases.  You will feel less stressed and the people around you, especially your kids, will thank you.

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