Imagine seeing a cute dog whining and as you move closer it starts to snarl. It no longer looks pitiful or adorable. Some would recoil out of fear and probably get upset. Just as you hurry off in a huff, you notice that it has wounds on its body, probably abused or had an accident. Would you then change your feelings? That would be the same with humans as well. Some are walking around wounded, hurt looking for some kind of help or encouragement. However, when you approach to help you might get a back lash. Would you continue to help, to be a friend or would you walk away, angered, hurt and worse make a hurtful judgement?
Sometimes, it is easy to pass judgements when we are angry. It is also easy to pass judgement when we don't understand a situation just so to make sense of the situation and perhaps yield some control on it. Some pass judgement when they are not able to empathize the situation the other is in. To be on the receiving end can be hurtful. People describe feeling unheard, isolated, ashamed, hurt, misunderstood, criticized and demeaned. This can result in people being less likely to talk about what they're going through and ask for the help they need. Those who are walking around wounded and hurt may not know how to ask for help in the right way that others may understand or empathize. Often times, they fear being vulnerable and being rejected so they lash out before they get hurt again.
How can we be kind and compassionate in a world that is fast evolving and doesn't stop for one who is stuck, stranded and lost? How can we help others heal so that we can build a better world around us?
Practice a non judgmental stance. When someone does something differently, they are acting from a point of their own understanding / experiences. Just like you and I solve issues differently, it doesn't make it wrong, it's just different. Accept that we are all uniquely made and in this uniqueness we all solve issues creatively. I like this quote by the Dalai Lama: “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.”
Be mindful. Although judgment is a natural instinct, try to catch yourself before you speak, or send that nasty email and do any potential harm. Pause. Breathe! See if you can understand where the person may be coming from. Sometimes, we just don’t know the reasons for someone’s behavior. If you need release what has made you so upset, find someone you can speak with, journal or go for a walk - a very long walk - until you walk off the anger / frustration. Then, start over again.
Walk in their shoes - empathize. If you are helping someone but due to a miscommunication, they lash back at you. Take a step back. Ask yourself, what triggered the situation, was it something you said? Those who are wounded need empathy, not solutions (unless they ask you!), and certainly not your advise. Try not to make any suggestions, remarks, criticism until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Toni Sorenson, an author, says, “Walking a mile in someone else's shoes isn't as much about the walk or the shoes; it's to be able to think like they think, feel what they feel, and understand why they are who and where they are. Every step is about empathy.” I made a mistake once by saying, "I know how you are feeling". Although it may look like a similar situation, it doesn't make it the same. I got the lashing I deserve and since then, learnt to watch what I say.
For those who are walking with the wounded, the journey may look long, but don't give up. Thank you for walking with them patiently (which is just about everyone, you and me included), and helping to heal this old wounded world we live in. This world needs healing with kindness, and compassion. I am grateful for one of my friend's honesty (the mark of a true friend is one who would tell you the truth without the fear of losing your friendship); she would remind me whenever I am passing a judgement, especially if it is someone we don't know well and they are not around to hear it. Not only do I get to practice awareness from this, but to refrain from any judgments unless it is a good judgement that would encourage the other. I am still a work in progress, join me;)