Tim Hoch describes himself as “a lawyer, mistake repeater, embellisher of past accomplishments, forgetful husband, capricious father, double standard practitioner, weak ass raconteur.”

Recently at “Thought Catalog” Mr. Hoch posted “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be”.

It is a great list although I would apply some of his points in slightly different ways. Here are Hoch’s “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder” with a few comments added.

1. You ascribe intent.

Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.

Happy people do not do this. They don’t take things personally.


This is the projection problem; it covers a lot more ground than Mr. Hoch gives it credit for. Whenever I “ascribe” any motivation, thought, feeling, or reaction to you without your express agreement, I am creating misery for myself and potential disharmony for the world.

The truth is, I do not know what you are thinking. I do not know what you are feeling.You are a mystery to which I gain access only to the degree that you are able and willing to articulate your deepest self in a way that I am able to receive.

The old instruction to “Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins,” is intended to encourage empathy and compassion. The problem is that it is actually impossible to walk a mile in another person’s moccasins. I do not know what is going on in your life. I have no idea what it is like to live inside the world that has brought you to the place at which you have arrived.

Jesus  seems to have understood the difficulty of knowing another person and so instructed his followers,

‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.’ (Luke 6:37)

Your actions, the things you say, and the feelings you experience come from the world in which you live. They reflect the emotional make-up you have inherited, the choices you have made, and the unique body chemistry that has contributed to making you the person you have become.

I am headed down the crazy road whenever I attribute intentions to your actions, as if I understand who you are.

I do not know all the elements that have come together to constitute the person you have become. So, I do not know what motivates your choices and behaviour.  I am most healthy when I acknowledge the profound limitations of my ability to understand you and give up the illusion that I know the reasons behind your choices.

Understanding the limitations of my understanding and taking personal responsibility for my own life and letting you take responsibility for your life are key to inner health and freedom in human relationships.