Love Letters to Humans (no. 60) — on Pathologizing

What if instead of pathologizing people who displease us, we admit we don’t understand them—and then stop judging ourselves for not wanting to?

Your feelings and desires are your business. They are worthy of being honored. They are not wrong and they do not need to be defended by attacking someone else. They do not require someone else to be wrong or unwell as a reason for being.

Behaviors, dynamics, and relationships we do not want to participate in are simply that: behaviors, dynamics, and relationships. We can say no, opt out, disengage, honor our own needs and desires, move on, not care, make choices in our own best interests… none of it requires us to dehumanize, diminish, demonize other people or pathologize their behaviors (or our own).

We can make choices that take care of us simply because we are precious and worthy of regard.

Our worthiness is innate, not oppositional—it does not require someone else to be unworthy, even when they have acted in ways that hurt us. That kind of either/or thinking is white supremacy, patriarchy, and punitive cultures of contempt rooting and reproducing themselves in us. We can choose something different.

People can hurt us and not be narcissists. People can make choices we don’t understand and not be mentally unsound. People can reject our invitations and not be anti-social. People can learn and see the world differently than we do (or be ignorant about a topic we care about) and not lack intelligence.

Pathologizing, labeling, and diagnosing what we don’t like, understand, care for, or want to relate with (besides often being ableist and nearly always unhelpful) is so far out of our lane that we lose sight of our own sovereignty and humanity and others’.

It’s okay not to like or love someone. It’s okay to choose not to participate in relationships and dynamics that harm us or do not work for us. And it’s okay to NOT make judgements about someone else as our reason for saying no.

You are sovereign and your no is sacred. Mind your business.