It is so easy to rush to judge someone. How many times have you seen a mother with unruly children and jumped to the conclusion that she is someone who can not control her kids?
Or maybe you see an overweight person walk past and you judge that they have brought it on themselves and deserve no sympathy?
Yet, in reality there are many reasons behind behaviours. Consider maybe the mother with unruly children has just heard she has terminal cancer and does not have the energy to stop her children misbehaving at that moment?
Or maybe the overweight person you walked behind has a medical condition that prevents them losing weight?
Knowledge is a powerful thing isn't it? The more we know about a situation or person the more likely we are to be compassionate or understanding.
An important part of growing as a person is developing compassion, both for yourself and others. We say that when you understand why someone behaves the way they do, then you are more able to feel compassion instead of judgement toward them.
Typically, when we judge someone we are making a whole host of
assumptions. Take a simple judgement: "She should be on time". Is that true?
Do you know:
-If something unavoidable occurred to prevent her from being on time?
-What lessons she is learning in her life by being late?
-If being on time is an important standard for her?
-If her inner guidance was keeping her from a certain intersection at a certain time?
The bottom line is that you don't know, you never really know what someone else's path in life involves. Therefore, the answer is always, "No, it's not true". It's just your opinion.
Having compassion does not mean that you have to condone someone's
hurtful behavior, but it does mean that you don't judge the person.
Now I imagine that some of you are thinking, "What about criminals?" I'm willing to bet that the most heinous crimes are committed by people who had heinous things done to them as children. Does that excuse or justify their behavior? Definitely not. But if you knew their story, you would feel more compassion for them. We see this in our work in the judicial system, where
judges pass judgment on the action of an individual, while remaining compassionate to the person.
Our day to day judgments are typically not of that magnitude. They are mostly about things that we believe other people should be doing based on our own values, standards, wishes or needs.
So the next time you find yourself judging someone, take the judgmental thought and ask yourself; Is that true?
Can you know with absolute certainty that it is true? If you're not in that other person's skin the answer has to be - No, it's not true.
Conversely, the more we value ourselves, the easier it is to appreciate others, flaws included.
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