We are human and it’s natural to try to define and rationalize what we see, or think we see. A simple action step for resetting our compassion compass is suspending judgment – not jumping to conclusions, criticizing, labeling or analyzing without truth and facts. It’s possible to spend a great deal of energy hypothesizing about people that can take us down a negative trajectory opposing the path of empathy and understanding.
In last weekend’s USA Weekend, Katie Couric shared her own experience of realizing being critical and judgmental isn’t much fun. I truly admire Katie’s courage and compassionate humility in sharing the story. Katie found herself describing a certain woman as “materialistic.” Katie’s 16 year old daughter shared with her that the woman had a very kind daughter and the woman bought things to compensate for being in a loveless marriage. Katie’s interaction with her daughter helped Katie reset her compassion compass and think twice about judging others too harshly.
Many things happen and are occurring we are not aware of that are behind people and actions we see. Many times these situations are painful and can create long-term suffering. But, as Katherine Hepburn’s character states in the classic movie On Golden Pond,
“Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, just like you.”
Which then perhaps begs the questions:
What I am doing to see each person I come in contact with wherever I am at as a human participating in the human condition of suffering?
Is it possible that however perfect others appear, no one is truly perfect and each of us has our pain and we are doing the best we can?
How am I helping at least one person today be the best they can be?
What could happen if I suspended judgment during one personal interaction?
What would happen if I put a quarter in a jar every time I suspended judgment?
Grant me the humility to accept others, strength to suspend judgment, and courage to send comfort and love.
Thank you Katie.