Understanding versus Judgment


Recently, I had to see two family members at a child’s birthday party.  I don’t see these family members often due to issues we have had in the past.  Our visit at the event went well and was even somewhat pleasant.  I came to the realization on the way home that what was different was how I approached and viewed both of these individuals.  I viewed them from a place of understanding rather than a place of judgment.  That does not mean I welcome their issues into my life, but I can see them differently and recognize that although they are not on my journey they are on their own journey.  It is not my place to judge what their journey on this earth truly is. 

How many times have we met someone and immediately decided by their behavior how they are in their lives.  We have all encountered a rude waitress, cashier, customer service worker.  We are quick to judge that the issue is always with that person and never with us.  We don’t stop to think about this person and the type of day they are having.  Maybe they received horrible news about a loved one or their spouse abuses them or any number of issues which could affect their behavior towards us.  Or it is possible our behavior was less than stellar when interacting with them. We, certainly, never think our behavior could have influenced their behavior towards us. 

Taking a look back over the last two years and how divided we have become because of the current political climate in our country this line of reacting to someone via judgment instead of understanding rings true.  What if we took a different look at what circumstances in someone’s life leads them to what they believe.  We all share a common human experience.  At some point in our lives, we all come from a place of fear.  We all have times we question our decisions.  We all have good days and bad days.  We have all made mistakes.  But, in today’s climate it appears when someone makes a mistake they must pay for it forever.  We see a meme or a headline and readily believe it to be true without research and we are quick to judge rather than take a breath and find out the whole story and not just a headline. 

What I do know is when we meet judgment with judgment we just continue the negative cycle.  But, if we meet judgment with understanding and try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we may realize in most circumstances the person we are judging is not much different than we are and may want the same things we do.  Trust me, this is not easy to do and some days if not most days I fail at this myself.  But, I do continue to strive to be a more considerate and tolerant person.  

The next time you encounter a rude person just ask them if they are having a bad day and is everything alright.  I bet you will see a different side to this person and you will improve their day as well as your own. 

Ellen DeGeneres ends her show every day with “Be Kind to one another.”  Wise words indeed. 


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