Choosing Empathy Over Judgement
Many people are quick to come to conclusions about others based on outside appearances. They pass judgments strictly on how a person looks, what they wear or their behaviors. The problem with this is that there is always more to a person than what first meets the eye.
If you see someone who looks unkempt you may think they don’t care about how they look, but it could be that they don’t have the funds to buy new clothes. They also may not have access to clean water daily. You could make a judgment based on how a person behaves, maybe they show up late all the time, so you assume they don’t respect you or they’re irresponsible. However, it could be that they are just overwhelmed by responsibilities and struggling to fit everything into their schedule. They could have a sick relative or be working multiple jobs to support their family, etc.
Many of us have an ingrained idea of what is right and what is wrong, but when someone doesn’t fit into that box, we are hasty to pass judgments. Yet, this doesn’t always apply to our own flesh and blood. When it comes to our loved ones, many of us tend to be more open and willing to see past the actions. We utilize more empathy and try to understand the person’s behavior. You know more about the story behind the person. Your close relationship with this person and knowledge helps you be more empathetic to the situation.
The problem is, many of us lose this insight when we look at other people’s children, parents or siblings. We are quick to make these snap judgments because we think we know them when really, we can only see a small piece of the puzzle.
This lack of empathy has caused a real problem in our society, especially for those who have children in prison. People are quick to degrade others because they assume things about your parenting skills or your kid’s quality as a human being. People are quick to think that the kid is a lost cause or that there are no second chances. But what would happen if it was their kid? A person’s outlook changes when it’s their own child going through something. There is a vested interest here. You know what your child went through. Maybe your child struggled to fit in, was dealing with the loss of something, is living with a learning disability, etc. You know the experiences your child has gone through and what has got them to where they’re at now. You have a deeper connection to what’s in their heart and how they hope to move forward. The perspective completely changes when it’s your child behind bars.
We need to remember this when we look at others. We need to see other’s loved ones with the same scope of empathy, seeking understanding, instead of being quick to make a judgment call. It’s not our job to pass those judgments, instead, it’s our job to build better communities and focus on being more understanding human beings for the betterment of everyone.
[Monalisa Johnson is a licensed and ordained minister of the gospel and a certified life coach as well as a mother and entrepreneur. In no way is anything that she writes, speaks or shares considered medical advice or clinical therapy. Consider all that you receive to be life coaching and guidance.]