“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Wendy Mass
Someone cuts you off in traffic on your way to work. An employee behind a desk becomes impatient and rude. An argument escalates with a coworker. We’ve all been there. We have all had those situations that make us irritable. What do we do next?
Our minds become entangled in negativity when we start obsessing about poor behavior directed towards us in a given situation. We judge and convict based on our limited knowledge of the scene we encounter. At times we adopt someone else’s perspective as our own or criticize our fellow man. Then what happens? We react, verbalize our opinions and magnify unfavorable outcomes for those who are already hurting.
The truth is we are all trying to find our way through this world. Our paths and experiences might be different, but we have all stood in the midst of adversity wondering how to move forward. We have all acted responding to emotions and events intensifying into uncharacteristic behavior. Every single person wishes they could have a “do over” for at least one specific conversation or event in their lives. This is all repressed when we are consumed by our own worlds. We forget that everyone else has their own world, too.
Mindfulness helps retrain the brain to create pathways for self-compassion and empathy for others. Reflection on daily situations that cause disappointment, anger or fear can help shift perspective, perhaps even allowing us to see from another’s point of view. Regular practice of embracing understanding can make space for forgiveness, allow healing, and even serve as a catalyst for growth. After all, the meaningful question is never “What mistakes did I/they make?” but is instead “What did WE learn from it?”
We are all human; we all make mistakes. Remembering this and acting with kindness may remove some of the bitterness and sting for those who need it most.