“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” – Plato
“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” – Steve Maraboli
Compassion can be experienced as an emotion – what we feel when we see others suffering. It can also be what sparks us to act in accordance with The Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated).
In order to show compassion for others, though, we have to start with ourselves. We have to treat ourselves as we would want others to treat us. Often times, we don’t do that. We are much harder on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else. Why? Why is it that we demand a level of perfection from ourselves that we would never expect anyone else to live up to?
I’m not talking about holding others accountable for their actions when they affect us. Accountability, though, can be as simple as walking away from a person or situation that doesn’t serve us. It need not entail seeking retribution or revenge. Accountability is a two-way street: we are just as responsible for being accountable to ourselves as others are for being accountable to us.
Compassion is a two-way street, as well.
Showing compassion for others involves remembering that we have no idea what battles others are fighting, or what demons they are facing. That woman who you let cross the street in front of your car, and she didn’t even look up to nod a thank you because she was too busy on her cell phone? Maybe she’s talking with someone at a hospital because a loved one just got into a horrible accident. We just don’t know.
And truthfully – even if we did know – and even if it wasn’t something we believe worthy of the other’s actions – it’s important to remember that there are many people who don’t agree with our actions, too. And that’s just too damn bad, right? We have the right to act authentically and not give a rip what anyone else thinks.
But if we want to live having compassion for ourselves (and we must), not letting others’ opinions affect us, we also need to show compassion for others and not allow our perspectives to form negative judgments / condemnations about them.
Live and let live, while cliche, is the best way to go. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others – even if it’s just by turning the other cheek and focusing on your own path.
Love and light,
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.
Did this resonate with you? Did you enjoy reading it? Did you learn something? If so, please share! xoxo
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