I often find myself trying to remember to have patience and compassion with people around me that test my levels of patience and compassion.
This is going to sound awful, but it’s so easy to write someone off as whiney or annoying or weird, right? I hear it all of the time and will fully admit that I’m guilty of having categorized people like this without taking the time to dig in and learn their story.
Because everyone has a story.
Some stories are just more hidden than others, darker than others. Some stories may not be as “bad” as others, but affect people in more detrimental ways than we might think. Some stories are just layered on top of layers upon layers of other stories and, therefore, contain a complexity that we could never even begin to understand.
And, even when we know someone’s story, we have no idea at what point in that person’s experience they happen to be. Are they just starting to deal with it after 20 years of keeping it to themselves? Did they just suffer a loss that very day? Are they “healing” by sharing with others or does it scare them off and make matters worse to try to get them to talk about what they’re going through?
People may be actually just be chronic complainers and they may have annoying habits because of a lack of social skills. But, in my opinion, people are never just weird.
It may not be the case that every “weird” person lives with autism or has been domestically abused. They may not have just watched their mother die from cancer that morning or found out that their young child is terminally ill. And, they may not have just walked in on their spouse having an affair on them.
But, almost everyone out there is walking around with some kind of baggage. Even the people that always seem happy and super-friendly and like everything is always going just swimmingly. I think there are definitely people that are walking around feeling like that and not necessarily trying to cover something up, but you just never know.
And, because I can never really know, I try to always remind myself to treat people with the utmost care and compassion. I try to always take my time to look a little beyond the surface, a little past what they’re initially willing to give me.
Not too far, but far enough that I can establish a relationship with this other human being built on trust and love and whatever it takes to let them know that they can be themselves with me.
Whoever they are: CFNE drop-in’s, fellow parents at our kids’ schools, neighbors, random people I run into at the market, old friends.
There should never be boundaries to who you treat with patience and compassion.
Everyone is deserving and worthy of care and love.