You Just Never Know


Two strangers holding hands.The news of Kate Middleton’s video about her cancer treatment is the ultimate reminder that you never know what someone else is going through. You can guess, speculate, gossip about it, and you just never know.

And how often, especially when it’s someone not in the public eye, do we not even consider the possibilities or go right to malicious intents?

I was lucky to be raised by parents who always taught me this important lesson about everyone. I specifically remember coming home from school in second grade, complaining about my teacher, who lost her patience and yelled at someone in my class. I remember my mom explaining that my teacher had been on the job for many years and was simply tired and most likely ready to retire. This by no means excused the behavior but forced me to see the situation from my teacher’s perspective and understand what was happening behind the yelling.

Whether this was the whole story or not didn’t matter. It opened my mind to consider another perspective.

My dad was the same way. If a salesperson or waiter was rude, he assumed they were having a bad day and just needed a little extra kindness or a bigger tip instead of our judgment. It would amaze me to see the behavior change when they were extended this grace.

I have tried to teach my boys the same. They know that we cannot always control the way others treat us, but we can certainly control our responses to them.

By no means am I asking them to accept mistreatment or allow themselves to be walked all over, but instead to always take a beat and accept that there is a whole other story on the other side of the behavior that we know nothing about and likely has nothing to even do with us.

This frees us from taking every misstep personally and also trains our minds to always be open to learning about the other perspective.

Compassion and kindness go a long way; we can extend that even when we do not know the whole story. And even if that is too big an ask or the behavior is inexcusable, at the very least, just considering what might be going on is a start.

I always remind my boys that everyone is going through something. Be kind; when kindness feels impossible, at least just be curious. You never know.


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