I mean no disrespect when I say that we are all stuck in our own little world. The only point of view that we will ever see is our own. We peer into the world through our own eyes, which are tinted by our own perceptions, beliefs, and experiences.
As much as we would like to think that our thoughts are unbiased or impartial, we know that this cannot be true. We know only what we know, we feel only what we feel, and we see only what we see.
There are times during the day when I feel angry. I allow people to get the best of my emotions and cause me inner pain. Generally, my immediate reaction is to think thoughts that are uncompassionate or negative. Something like, “Wow, he’s an idiot.” Because I only see my side of the story, the easiest thing to do is to blame others for their foolishness. It’s the “I am right, you are wrong” mentality.
But there is a better approach we can all take.
To change our perception of other people, there is something important that we must know.
We can never truly understand the suffering that another person goes through or has been through in their life.
Her partner may have filed for a divorce, his child might be sick with cancer, her mother might have abused her as a child, his company could be going bankrupt, or her health might be deteriorating.
If we knew this information, we would become more understanding of that person's behavior.
Here’s a truth. We all have our own baggage. We all have our own vices and addictions. We all have our own childhood traumas. We are all a part of the human experience where we must bear witness to our own suffering. No one else can do it for us.
Most of the time, we don’t know the things that have happened in a person’s life to cause them to act the way they act, or say the things they say. And we may never know.
So, the next time a person angers us, let’s pause for a moment and remember that we all face difficulties in own our lives. If we use this strategy wisely, it may be enough for us to begin treating other people with more compassion and respect.
One last point. Does another person’s suffering make it OK for them to act thoughtlessly towards us? The answer is - it doesn’t matter. We must remember that we ourselves are not perfect. One day, it will be our turn to go through emotional turmoil. Our reaction to a situation won’t be much different. We will needlessly yell at our child. We will lash out at our most trusted friends. We will act passively-aggressive. It is in these very times, that we will need others to be as patient and compassionate with us as we were to them.