Recognizing Selfishness; Replacing it with Kindess
Day after day, I see people making disparaging remarks about other people’s behavior. They make the remarks from their omniscient positions. with complete information as to the other person’s motives, challenges, and choices. Or so they believe. At a time when we need as much compassion and kindness as we can muster, making snap judgements and decisions about someone else’s lack of consideration is becoming a sport of Olympic proportions.
I don’t claim to be innocent, but I do try to catch myself, and succeed a large portion of the time. I realize the person doing the judging may have family members on the front lines as medical personnel, truck drivers, grocery clerks, and such who are putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us fed and healthy. They may have a loved one who is immunocompromised, making them especially sensitive to those who are out and about for no reason they can see, and worse, without wearing what they consider mandatory protective gear.
What most of us won’t see is the father who’s putting himself at risk seemingly unnecessarily because his job is unavailable and his kids are hungry, or at risk of losing the roof over their heads. We don’t see the person who is grocery shopping for aging parents, and may have to drive 50 miles one way to ensure their parents are taken care of because moving them into their own home isn’t an option.
Everyone Struggles in Some Way
There are so many scenarios which explain why people are on the streets or highways during a time when we’re supposed to be staying home for the sake of everyone’s health and safety. The choices many have to make are difficult, yet often obvious too. As one of the lucky ones with a full freezer, a roof over my head, and an internet connection, I try really hard to put myself in the shoes of those who, to my untrained eyes, seem to be putting the rest of us in danger of a longer quarantine period. I don’t always succeed, but at least I’m learning not to jump to conclusions often enough to meet my daily exercise requirements.
I read somewhere recently that when someone does something unkind or hurtful, it’s because they’re experiencing their own pain or fear, and are mired within it. I’m sure that’s true of those who are quick to judge as well. They have their own fears and pains which they can’t get past in order to look at others kindly. Instead, they focus outward to someone who, in their minds deserves some of that fear and pain.
Put Aside Fear for Your Own Health
I’m not going to say it’s easy to put aside our own pain and fear, much less the frustrations many are beginning to experience as the quarantine period drags on, and the number of people infected rises. I will say some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have been those which required me to raise the bar a little higher, and more importantly, to be a better person than I was used to being.
Things will be challenging for everyone for awhile. You’ll continue to have your freedom limited, and do without many things you thought you couldn’t live without. If you haven’t already, you’ll ultimately know someone who gets sick—maybe even someone who dies from COVID-19 or complications thereof. Acting as some omnipotent judge and jury over other peoples’ behavior isn’t going to change the ultimate outcome.
Call me idealistic, but I believe showing each other love, compassion, and understanding will; if only to bring our hearts together instead of pitting them against each other. Let’s look for a minute at what compassion is not. I choose to believe everyone means well, but sometimes taking care of yourself and your family blinds you to the plight of others.
Making a Case for Compassion
I believe Compassion is not:
- Only for those each individual might deem “deserving”
I believe Compassion is:
- Sometimes challenging when our family and friends are at risk
- Backed by love and hope
- Equal opportunity
- Something we have to work at applying liberally and non-selectively
- Available to everyone
I have to stop myself time after time, whether it’s because someone is acting in a way I think is irresponsible, inconsiderate, or reckless, or someone else is speaking judgmentally about another’s behavior. It’s probably easier for me to jump on my soapbox when I think someone is being unkind, yet I know intrinsically they are speaking out because they believe they have to for the sake of someone they love.
To Fight, To Defend, or To Support
Heaven knows I’ve defended my children unnecessarily over the years. I’ve gone to bat for them on many occasions, only to find it was unwarranted for one reason or another, and often unwelcome by the recipient. In the end, the only behavior you can control is your own. The only consequences you suffer are the ones attached to your own actions.
One of the best images I’ve seen is THINK:
- Is it True?
- Is it Helpful?
- Is it Inspiring?
- Is it Necessary?
- Is it Kind?
If everyone stopped to ask themselves these questions before speaking (or posting on Social Media), it would go a long way towards ensuring each person speaks from a kinder, more loving place. It would give people better things to do than bash political candidates, hate on a group that’s different from their own, or blame others for their current situation. You’d find more people reaching out in understanding, recognizing when someone was struggling, yet doing the very best they could, and would open up all sorts of opportunities to give back, or better still, pay it forward.
In the process, I honestly believe we’d continue healing our poor, mistreated planet. Getting into the habit of being kinder and more sensitive to each other has a snowball effect. Soon, you’re noticing the flock of butterflies I saw today, or hearing the birds singing, or even seeing rainbows. Best of all, you realize how beautiful the world really is when things and people are allowed to bloom and grow without expectations or restrictions. Can’t we give it a try?
When All Else Fails, Try Gratitude
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the little things; sunny days, butterflies, birds singing, and children laughing.
- I’m grateful for opportunities to get outside and play in the dirt.
- I’m grateful for a slower pace, even if it’s only temporary.
- I’m grateful for connections that are challenged to get more creative, and more consistent.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, kindness, understanding, sensitivity, acceptance, forgiveness, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward