Foster Understanding and Kindness
Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always. ~ Brad Meltzer
I want you to do a simple exercise: close your eyes and think about an issue affecting you that few people know about. Consider the situation carefully and feel the emotions associated with it. Perhaps you feel sadness, anger or anxiety? Let’s take it a step further: think of someone close to you experiencing something similar. It might be a parent, a sibling, a relative or close friend. Try to get a sense of their pain and suffering. As you do this, move into your heart and feel compassion for them. Now, open your eyes and sit with the feelings you experienced. How do you feel? Did you experience a sense of oneness with the other person? A shared humility for life? The aim of this exercise is to understand that your suffering is the same as many other people endure.
We all face battles few people know little or nothing about. We all carrying a heavy burden in some form or another. Some carry it in the form of psychological pain while others carry emotional and physical pain. Some wounds are visible, while other are less noticeable. However, this does not subtract from the burden they endure daily. Therefore, we ought to be more compassionate with one another instead of giving people a piece of our mind. Life is not always smooth sailing and there are times when we are not our best. Someone may ignite our pain and we admonish them to remind them of our hurt. But let me say: that person too also carries a hurt of a different kind. Therefore, retaliating when you are in pain does little to heal each other and the world by and large.
Does this makes sense? I hope it is clear people seldom aim to hurt us maliciously. There is often a deep wound they are responding to, so we ought to be compassionate with them before responding in anger or haste. I’m not suggesting you become a door mat for others to walk over. But fighting fire with fire does little to foster understanding and kindness. It seems people are kinder to their pet animals than they are with themselves. I’ve coached hundreds of people over the years with inner conflicts who hold high expectations of themselves. When they fall short, they chastise themselves because they did not live up to the image of who they ought to be. When asked whether they treat their pet animals in the same way, they are loathed to contemplate it. Yet they treat themselves as second-rate citizens. Can you see the folly in this way of thinking?
We are All Fragile in Those Tender Places
No need to load our thoughts with the weight of our shoes ~ André Breton
If we are unkind to ourselves because of a volatile inner critic, it is likely to show up in our interaction with others. But going to war with ourselves does little to heal our emotional wounds and we become that person that finds faults in others. Do you know these types of people I’m referring to? It seems nothing is good enough and they believe the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place. They like to tune in to news events and remind you how harsh the world is. But this is only a perception based on their subjective reality. Because for every bad news event there are people who are living passionate lives. There are people waking up grateful to be alive and surrounded by loved ones. There are people in third world countries happy to earn a basic living and serve their family and community.
The opposite of everything we believe is wrong with the world exists out there. We just haven’t attuned our awareness to it. If you were to travel the world for twelve months in search of positive experiences, it would change your life. What we give our attention to becomes our perception and model of reality. The reason we experience conflict with others, is because they have a different model of reality to ours. Therefore, we try to convince them our model is superior to theirs and conflict ensues. What if we were to agree there are multiple realities coexisting, based on our level of awareness? That is to say: the more you grow and develop, the greater your perception becomes. It is why people with an enhanced self-esteem rarely find fault in others because they know we are all fragile in those tender places. Highlighting another person’s weaknesses does little to strengthen our own character.
Are you beginning to get a sense that your perception creates the canvas of your life and interaction with others? Can you see that being in conflict with yourself means finding something to disagree with in another person? Can you also see that healing and transforming your wounds foremost is the basis for purposeful living? Knowing that everyone carries a heavy burden, reminds us to tend to our own needs first before we castigate them. With that in mind, I’d like you to give some thought to how you can be more compassionate in your interactions with those who offend you? You needn’t agree with everyone and those who are disagreeable can teach us something about ourselves. It doesn’t mean we need to go to war with them. We can still be civil and disagree on our outlook because we recognise our shared humanity. It is when we learn to heal and transform our pain that we view every interaction as a sacred space of healing and self-transformation.