Thank you to LL for permission to use her quote and this image.
There’s a lot to unpack in this pointed quote, which is all about judgment. Most of us are judgmental, at least to some degree. But when we sit in judgment of others it means we’re not exercising an important trait: empathy. We are not accessing our ability to feel or understand the feelings of others.
Yes, it can be difficult to put ourselves in another’s shoes. And it’s a skill that has to be developed. I believe we are born with the ability to empathize but our fears and insecurities get in the way. Those loom large in all our lives. They are perfectly normal–but we can’t let them have the lead.
Some ugly judgments can arise when we give fear and insecurity free rein.
None of us is a perfect human being. We have all experienced pain and suffering, perhaps not in the same way, but nonetheless, pain is part of living. For us all. When we recognize that, we can more easily push past our judgments and really see the other person in their totality. To feel empathy. If we choose. And we should choose.
Take a moment to consider what they’ve gone through in their lives. Chances are, it’s far deeper and more significant than it looks on the surface. So dig a bit deeper.
I have friends who are often judged by how outsiders think they are. But I know the backstory. I know the depth of what they’ve experienced. It’s easier for me to not judge, to feel empathy, because I have that information.
But we don’t often know the backstory.
That’s why it’s good to simply assume there is one and if we can, try to access it. Imagine for a moment what it might be like to have gone through some of their life experiences. How that might have driven some of their behavior and attitudes. And if we don’t know enough, let’s assume there is more to the story than meets the eye.
The recognition that we do not know the full story is an important factor in meeting people where they are, rather than judging them for where we think they are not.
It’s not about us
It’s normal to think that people behave in a certain way because of us, when often it’s not about us, at all. WE are not the center of everyone’s universe, just our own. Sometimes I really do have to remind myself that there are likely to be factors at play that I am unaware of. How about you?
So my lessons as I write this (and yes, writing is always full of important reminders and teachable moments for me) are this:
It’s not about me. And this: People act out of their own life experiences.
Don’t they sound simple? But easy to forget.
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