Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Finding Empathy in a Judgmental Society

I've been thinking about doing this post for a while now, and today seemed the right time to go ahead and write it. I see this every day, especially on social media. People make posts about how others are inferior to them, how they are right and the others are wrong, sometimes even resorting to name calling or bullying to prove their point. People get so angry that they will even end a relationship over it. I wonder, when did we become such a judgmental society? Or has it always been there, and social media has just put a spotlight on it?

Don't get me wrong - I have strong opinions about things. When I see someone I love doing something that will almost certainly lead to hardship, I don't stick my head in the sand and assume everything is going to be all right. I'll even give them honest advice if it's asked for. But I've stopped getting angry at people who don't take my advice. I don't take it personally anymore. And I've stopped letting people's differing opinions wind me up to the point of getting bent out of shape.

What I wish I could see more of online is empathy - or at least a breather from all this judgement! I wish I could see more people focusing on the things that bring them happiness and amusement instead of the things that stress them out.

We need to remember that everyone has their own set of issues they're working through. So often we are extremely quick to judge without for one second trying to see the situation from the other person's point of view. And yes, there are genuinely horrible people out there who I will never understand, but there are also those who are seemingly bad people but who are simply doing the best they can and don't have the intentions to hurt others; they do it by default and are following their own misguided compass.

There's a big difference between someone who is an enemy and actively trying to hurt you and someone who is just trying to get along in life and learning things the hard way.

However, if someone in my life is living in a way that is dangerous to my safety, I use wisdom and simply keep my distance from them. Sometimes I see fit to remove myself from the situation altogether. But I try not to waste too much time and energy telling everyone who will listen about how I'm right and the other person is wrong or stupid or whatever. I just let it go and live my own life and focus on better things.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that what we focus on grows. So instead of giving fuel to our judgmental side, why not plant a little seed of empathy, tend the soil, and watch it blossom?