“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour.” ― Stephen M.R. Covey
A judgement is our view on something. We are constantly making judgements about everything in life. About food, music, celebrities, cars, the weather, people, relationships, society etc.
Stephen M.R Covey made a truthful point through his writing. We tend to judge our actions by our intentions and personal experiences but when it comes to the actions and spoken words of others, we are more likely to judge others by their behaviour (e.g. what they have said or done). We all do this, knowingly and unknowingly.
Take as an example, the situation involving the young actress Pratyusha Banerjee who chose to end her life. We saw two main types of judgements towards Pratyusha’s action.Our judgements affect how we feel and how we behave towards others.
When we base our judgements on people’s actions (e.g. hurtful words), we are more likely to make negative judgements about them. This affects how we feel and how we behave towards them and others. We more likely to behave negatively towards them which increases problems.
When we try to understand the reasons behind people’s actions and see their life from their perspective, we are more likely to make accurate judgements and understand people. This is when we become compassionate.
What is compassion?
There’s no one right definition of compassion. Some people say compassion is about being sensitive to the suffering of others and showing concern. Others say it is being kind, warm and understanding towards others. In simple words, compassion is understanding another person’s suffering or difficulties in the same way as you would understand your own suffering or difficulties. Understanding others actions by seeing life from their perspective.
This can be hard when you don’t have a healthy way of understanding and react to your own difficulties. If you think negative of yourself, you are more likely to think negative of others too. This is why it is important to be compassionate and understanding of yourself and others.
Compassion is often what motivates people to help others. Compassion is not rocket science (so to speak) or a new discovery. You can trace compassion in many Holy Scriptures. We have just lost it over time.
Turning words into action: How to be more compassionate towards others
Talking and understanding compassion is one thing, being compassionate is another. Here are a few ideas that might help us be more compassionate.
Seeing the world through the eyes of another
This is easier said than done but is definitely possible through practice. To understand another person, their actions, their views and circumstances we need to:
- Put our personal perceptions and views to one side and
- Think how life must be like for the person we are trying to understand and be more compassionate towards.
The things you can ask is yourself are:
- What might be the reasons behind the person’s actions?
- What might be their views?
- How did they develop their views? Was it based on their upbringing, culture, traditions, life experiences?
- How might life be for the person?
Wherever possible, it helps to talk to the person you are trying to understand. Ask them.
We all have the tendency to hide things and put on an “everything is great in my life” act. This makes it even more important to ask the person you are trying to understand. When you ask them, be non-judgemental and listen. The temptation to interrupt and put your views across will be there, but do not give in until you have heard the person’s side completely.
The situation involving Pratyusha is just one example, we tend to make negative judgements about people in our daily lives without understanding their world, words and actions. This is in human nature but we can change it.
Understanding actions do not make someone’s actions right, wrong or justified. That’s not the point. It supports us in choosing a healthy way of reacting, managing the situation and moving forward. This is beneficial for ourselves and others than “playing the blame game”.
Everyone deserves compassion, both ourselves and others. Through understanding, we unite, without it problems increase. The Choice is ours to make.
Do you know of any other ways of how we can bring compassion back?