You Know A Person Who Is Struggling
You know a person right now who doesn’t have any idea who they are or where they are going. Their gender is not important. What is important is that you know this person, but you do not hold this knowledge – they are at a crossroads and perhaps you will never know. Maybe to you this person has everything going for them. Perhaps they appear for all intents and purposes to be nailing it. Maybe you’re even a little bit jealous of their life. And then, on top of that, consider that you are also this individual I am describing to someone else too.
To certain people, you look like you have everything going on in your life, although I doubt that you believe this to be true about yourself. How intricate and complex each life is, yet you probably have a habit of simplifying this complexity to a single snapshot at a single moment in every life. You see a person struggle and you believe their entire life is this struggle. You see a person succeeding in a single instance and you are forever jealous of their apparent unending success.
And now imagine that this person – the one we talked about in the beginning who is at a crossroads – imagine that they are dead. Maybe it was a tragedy like a horrible accident or suicide. Or maybe it was natural and coming for a long time. Whatever the case, this person is now gone, and the way you felt about them just before they passed is how they will be remembered in your mind for the rest of your life. There is no potential for your understanding of that person to change unless additional knowledge comes from a third party.
Generally speaking, your impression of them lost the ability to cahnge the moment they left this life. And now imagine, in the limited capacity that we can, that you are dead. And whatever limited aspect of you people know will be how they think about you until the day they die. Do you think this representation of you would be at all accurate?
Now imagine that this person who is at a crossroads and struggling has wronged you in some way. Maybe it was on purpose, or maybe it was an accident. Whatever the case, they have wronged you in some way and you have appropriately reacted with anger or devastation. But now you also conclude that this person is a bad person who does bad things and is unchangeable.
Again, let’s say that now you are the person who wrongs another, be it accidentally or on purpose. And maybe they think you are a bad person. But do you? If you accidentally or even by purpose hurt another person, do you consider yourself to be a bad person or do you tell yourself that context is important, and that one instance of badness cannot result in the entire life turning bad? Do you give yourself outs where you wouldn’t afford them to people who aren’t you?
Now imagine that you are you but you can experience the thoughts and feelings and fears and insecurities of this other person who is at a crossroads. You can experience the turmoil within them. And now you see how they hide their struggle and make it seem like everything is fine. You can truly understand the depth of their experience and you can appreciate what makes them tick. In this situation when they wrong you – do you conclude that they are a bad person or do you now understand the context of their lives? Do you afford them the same out you can naturally afford yourself?
I wanted to write this today to get you to think about perspective and how potent it is. Often the way we interpret a situation is not the full truth. It may not even be the half-truth. Our biases, insecurities, egos, hopes and flaws prevent us from being objective. We make other people the bad guy because we cannot face up to the wrongs we do ourselves.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine that they are dead. Would the things happening now really matter if they passed away, or would you feel bad for holding a grudge?
Sometimes we don’t want to think. We want to be on autopilot and skid by on our laurels. But autopilot in any circumstance means you will never grow. Autopilot thinking is the antithesis to personal growth. So you better avoid it.