Kate Swoboda has a “love letter to the world” posted on her Your Courageous Life website. No telling how I stumbled upon it, but as I read her words my eyes filled with tears and I was reminded that we’re all going through this life journey doing the best we can. It’s easy to judge, while the opposite response—compassion—often requires both humility and effort. Swoboda encourages us to practice these qualities and to dare to respond differently in situations we each face everyday.
“Whatever we see in the world, that is us, too. Cultivate a willingness to compassionately drop down into the zero center of someone else’s imperfection, and you’ll see their pain, and a piece of your own. We are not so very different. We are far more alike than we often believe. With courageous hearts, we can change the world. So here goes:
In the face of complaints, look that person in the eye and imagine what it might have been like to be raised to see only what is wrong.
In the face of selfishness, wonder what it might be like to walk the world with a feeling of lack, of depletion.
In the face of insults, consider where this person first learned that it’s okay to abuse others.
In the face of disconnection, think about what causes it, and ask if your response will widen the river between the two of you.
In the face of laziness, recognize the fear of living big dreams.
In the face of extremism or fundamentalism, see the clinging, as well as the terror-filled silence that would arise for that person if they risked letting go.
In the face of controlling behavior, understand the chaos that must have bred it.
In the face of “always needing to be right,” see how often this person was once made wrong.
In the face of arrogance or bravado, hold gently that still, small piece that says “I’m not enough.”
In the face of drama or attention-seeking, see the person who wishes so much to be seen.
In the face of accusation, imagine what it might be like to live life with suspicion.
In the face of judgement or comparisons, step into the opportunity the world has just provided you for practicing love and acceptance.
In the face of passive-aggressiveness, recognize the child that wasn’t taught a safe way to express their truth.
In the face of anger, see the pain of isolation from others.
Most importantly: In the face of ferocious hatred, believe in the possibility that there exists the potential for equally as big, intense, lovely and fiery ferocious love.”
Can you see the wounded person beneath the behavior?