I’ve been thinking about what it means to give others grace and having compassion for others. It sounds like some “woo woo” hippie shit for real, and honestly, it’s something we say or think of in passing. Like, with the wave of a hand you’ll say “yeah, I hear you, be compassionate, sure.” And we don’t give it much thought during or after the word comes out of our mouths. And I believe a lot of us think it's something simple or easy that can be picked up at any time or something you can just remember that can be exercised at any moment. But if you start paying attention to your practice of compassion, you might realize that it’s a hard habit to form and practice. Compassion is like a muscle we must work out regularly and consciously in order to strengthen it and fully truly use it. It is a daily regular practice that we must intentionally implement during every interaction, and that’s hard! It’s difficult because it means we have to take people’s circumstances as well as their present selves into account when responding to them, rather than automatically reacting – DURING ALL INTERACTIONS!
Do you know how difficult it is to stop yourself from flipping off a person who cut you off in traffic? Or how almost impossible it seems to stop yourself from yelling at someone to “MOVE! ASSHOLE!” when you’re in bumper to bumper traffic? It’s hard! It’s hard to not automatically think that Katie, who works in the cubicle next door, is a bitch for not saying hello to you in the morning when you greet her. Oh, and it’s even harder to give grace and have compassion for people you know intimately. You’d think it would be easier because they’re loved ones, but it’s actually harder because you expect more from them. Like, it’s damn near impossible to not yell at your sibling, Dave, for the stupid shit he does regularly. Or not to blow up at your wife, Francis, for annoying you when she said one simple thing and you just had a bad day. I know the names are getting ridiculous, but just bear with me for a minute, I promise I have a point to make.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it means to give a person grace or to have compassion for them, because I believe it’s directly related to the expectations we have for a person or the projections we place on others without their say in it. We expect a lot. We also project a lot. At least, I do it a lot and I’m actively trying to change it. I’m trying my best to consciously and intentionally have love for people where they are and for who they are in the present moment. And to not add any of my expectations of who, how, or where they should be into the mix at all, as well as not projecting any of my own wants, needs, experiences, or ideals onto them either. And it’s hard ya’ll! It’s hard to give others grace or have compassion for others when I don’t understand or like something to do with them, their circumstances, their actions, etc. It’s difficult to take myself and my expectations out of the equation of how I view and accept others.
Logically I know that everyone has a reason for becoming who they are in the present moment, but subconsciously my mind only sees things from my own perspective even when I “put myself in others shoes.” Because I am essentially putting current me, with all my current life experience, in their circumstances without having the added knowledge of the other person’s life experience instead of mine. And of course, we only know so much about others – literally we only know what is told to us by them or someone else about them. So, with this minimal amount of context and knowledge, we fill in the blanks with our own perspectives. It’s just the easiest thing to do. But we have to fight it sometimes. Only when it’s detrimental to our understanding of the person, or our ability to accept them as they currently are. And I should say, it’s also harder for me because I have a hero complex where I feel like I must fix things for everyone, or save people from the consequences of their own choices. It’s a problem.
So I am actively trying to give others grace and have more compassion for them as a way to also keep from placing my own expectations and projections onto them. And this is not to say you're not allowed to just not like a person, you still get to not want certain people around you or to not like a person for the sake of not liking them. This is about those people that you just can't seem to understand but want to. The people you want to change to fit your idea of who/how they should be. The people you expect more of but can't seem to see what you see about them. If you're like me, I think those are the people we need to practice compassion with the most, because they are not us and we are not them. They are completely within their right as human beings to make their own choices devoid of how you feel and live their lives according to how they see fit. For some of us, that's a hard pill to swallow but it all comes down to having some grace and compassion for all living beings, and the understanding that your only job is to love them for who they are and where they are in the present moment. That's it, that's all.