Let us be honest... we so often see people or interact with people and think to ourselves…
”what is wrong with that person?”
A normal response...
But what if we shifted the focus and asked them...
“what happened to you in your story that has effected the way you are responding today?”
Imagine: You are driving down the street and you see a young girl, barely enough clothes on to cover her feminine features, begging for the attention from surrounding men, clearly abusing alcohol or some other substance, falling down, drunk.
Imagine: A young boy in a classroom who can not focus on the task to save his life... driving his teachers and peers to the edge.
Imagine: A 49 year old man who has been in and out of rehab more times than you can count on one hand. Lost his business, his family, his sanity.
What is wrong with them?
-She was abused by her uncle from age 5-10. Never shown what true love and respect looks like.
-He has been in 3 foster homes in the last year and his mother abused drugs when she was pregnant and gave him up for adoption at age 3.
-He never knew his mother and his father raised him and struggled with his own mental health and addition issues.
“People are harder to hate close up. Move in.”
This is in line with the chapter from Brene Brown’s book "BRAVING THE WILDERNESS"
“We're going to need to intentionally be with people who are different than us. We're going to have to sign up, join, and take a seat at the table. We're going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.”
Lets take it one level deeper...
I recently read an article that highlights the connection between childhood (and general) trauma and how it manifests in our present reality, personality, and behaviors.
This is a quote from that article....
"A well-established and growing body of evidence tells us the developing brain is an extraordinarily adaptive organ. When a child is raised in an environment with toxic levels of stress, the structure and chemistry of his or her brain evolves accordingly. So a child who is wired for survival in a hostile environment may have a tough time focusing and behaving as expected in a classroom.”
Okay... so what do we do???
The article goes on to say...
“The developing brain, however, is malleable not just in response to adversity. Nurturing, positive, and trusting relationships with adults can repair damage done and reshape the brain’s neuro-architecture in a way that is advantageous to the child—as well as society."
Can we provide nurturing, positive and trusting spaces? Communities? Relationships?
Can we move in. To each other. Listen. Show up.
It would behoove us to move from judgement to compassion. It is time.
Just look at the news for 5 seconds. It is time.
I must add... This is not a call to be mushy and spineless.
This is a call for accountability as well.
But accountability with compassion. It feels vital in our world today.
The invitation is to level up. To face our own stuff.
To own our stories and pain so that we can hold others in theirs.
We need each other to be a safe places to land, to be heard, to be known, to be loved, and to move forward together. We need therapists, teachers, ministers, parents, friends, family to take the risk of softening and listening.
So the next time you are disgusted by that guy on the news channel or that person who commented on your Facebook or that co-worker that you just can’t stand...
Move in with compassion. Become curious about what is behind that persons reality and your response to them. This is not a call to be best friends with everyone or to approve of lifestyles outside your judgement and value system. Do not confuse my words. This it is a call for awareness, curiosity, processing, and peace.
People are harder to hate close up, move in.
I imagine this is true for myself as well. The more compassion I offer to myself, the more I experience myself as loved and held. I have often found myself scattered, exhausted, confused, overwhelmed, running to hard, messy, struggling with this and that and in a shaming tone asking myself “what is wrong with you SC??”
But instead, could I move into myself and take a look around and show myself a little compassion.
We are all carrying more than we know.
We are harder to hate close up.