We make judgments all the time about people, places, and things. Our mind naturally works that way. But often times the conclusions we come to about others is inaccurate because we are not seeing the whole picture. I am reminded of an account of a person traveling on a subway who was terribly annoyed by the rambunctious behavior of some young children on the train. The children’s father seemed lost in his own thoughts, seemingly unaware of their obnoxious antics. “Can’t that man control his own kids?” thought the annoyed passenger. “How rude of him to allow his kids to disturb other passengers like this. What a jerk!” When she finally had enough she approached the man suggesting that he restrain his children. He turned to look at her, his eyes full of pain. “I’m sorry,” he said, “my children and I have just returned from the hospital where we said goodbye to my wife and their mother for the last time.” In an instant her anger turned to compassion.
Notice in this story that the man’s grief understandably blinded his awareness regarding his children’s behavior. Notice how the woman was also blinded by her indignation, leaving little room in her head and heart to see the situation any differently. Oh, what a difference perspective makes! With a broader perspective comes more understanding, more compassion. And when we have more compassion we can see others, even our “enemies,” in a better light.
Next time you find yourself making a harsh judgment call about someone, remind yourself that you may not being seeing the situation clearly. I love this advice from Marvin Ashton: “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care. Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and forgiving heart, and who looks for the best in people.”
(Excerpt from my book Thriving in Turbulent Times)
John's passion is in helping people get unstuck so they can experience their true potential. Before starting his own practice he spent 16 years coaching, consulting, and presenting to Fortune 500 companies, teams, and individuals on how to breakthrough their barriers and magnify their talents.