Imagine (or reflect on) one of the most difficult times of your life. It’s difficult, confusing, and you know something is not right. You’re deep in pain.
Now imagine that this time in your life is (in part) displayed for the whole world to see- on social media. Imagine people “commenting” the most hurtful, misdirected opinions and/or even making jest of your situation.
If you haven’t already made the connection, I’m talking about the “trending” news on Kanye West and his most recent episode managing Bipolar disorder. I cannot, and will not presume to know what he is going through or what is behind his actions or Tweets. I reviewed his Twitter feed and have my thoughts but this post is not about him. It’s about you or the collective us.
It’s about how comfortable our society feels commenting on someone’s mental health as if there is not a REAL human being suffering behind it. It’s about judging people, especially celebrities as if we really know what is going on. We don’t. We have no idea what that lifestyle or anyone’s life is like for that matter. But we still judge.
Dr. Wayne Dyer said “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” What does our collective opinions, comments and Tweets say about us, or the stigma, lack of understanding and misperception regarding mental health? It’s easy to use Kanye as an example because he is well known but imagine if you were him or if someone you loved were him. Again, this is not about Kanye. He is the stimulus to what has been collectively triggered and then expressed.
Same with Black Lives Matter movement, as a non-Black POC I have my experiences with racism, discrimination, marginalization, oppression that are very different than those in the Black community. I will not presume to know or fully understand what folx in the Black community experience on the daily. Yet, many people, non-Black POC and non-BIPOC (white folx), still comment and “think” they know or understand. Unless you are having their lived experiences, YOU DO NOT KNOW.
Knowledge, judgment and opinions are VERY different than wisdom and experience. Wisdom and experience have the capacity to increase compassion and empathy. These last several months I have been even more discerning on what I say, how I say it and what intention is behind my words. Words have power. Our words reflect our own consciousness which is continually being projected in the world. I want more compassion and empathy and therefore do my best to be empathic and compassionate.
“We all self-conscious. I’m just the first to admit it.” -Kanye West
On a personal note, I have been challenged with this very task in the last couple of months. I have been hurt. I have been betrayed. But after some time, reflection, processing my feelings and taking action steps, I have arrived at a place (internally) where I remind myself that I don’t really know full story of why someone would do what they do. There is a saying ““Hurt people hurt people” meaning hurt people hurt others because they themselves have been hurt, which goes back to the Wayne Dyer quote.
At the beginning of this post I asked you to image the most difficult time in your life and how you would want to be treated in your time of suffering. Why? Because imagining our direct experiences with pain, suffering, and hurt allows us to tap into empathy and compassion. Which is what I feel we need more than ever in this world right now. These are not easy tasks but I believe WE can do it.
Remember, we do not need to know all the information about a situation or person in order to offer compassion or empathy. We only need to remember and know our own suffering and pain. Let move forward being more mindful when we jump to conclusions or judgement about someone, step back and ask yourself “What if this was me? In what way does this reflect something I have been through?” Maybe that self-check can help you connect to more compassion.
I hope this post finds you all in good health, safety and in a space of personal transformation.
Much love and peace,
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” –Pema Chödrön