Do you ever look at other people and think they look like their life is perfect? When people are smiling do you assume they are happy in general? If someone has a job where they make a decent living do you assume they have no real worries? If someone has a nice newer car do you assume their life must also be nice?
Assumptions are a dangerous thing and almost always incorrect. Most people have something in their lives that they are going through, dealing with, struggling with. Most people have had trauma of some kind in their lives. Remember, trauma does not mean everyone has been abused. Trauma is personal and its impact is personal.
Death and divorce can be very traumatic experiences. A much broader acceptance of trauma is needed to understand that most people have had trauma of some kind and that their trauma may be impacting them in negative ways every day whether you know it or not.
When we see people who we believe are living a great life or an easy life and we dismiss what might lie beneath, we can assume that they are fine emotionally. They may look fine on the outside. Good job, nice clothes, newer car and smiles, but what you do not see can be weighing them down.
Battles are fought every day by most people. Battles with the past, present and future. Battles with others and with themselves. Almost everyone faces daily struggles of some kind.
For some the struggles are related to physical health, which is also not always visible to the outside observer. For others the struggles are related to providing for daily needs such as housing, food, clothing and safety. Many struggle with mental health issues, which are almost always hidden from others and especially from strangers. It is the what you cannot see that are sometimes the heaviest burdens.
When we assume others have no problems or that others problems are so much smaller than what we are dealing with, we can be judgmental and unkind. We can have no grace or patience with others. We can dismiss others with our looks and words. We assume and move on to our problems.
There are those who would say that someone’s issues are not a reason for them to be frustrated, rude, angry or a multitude of other emotions towards others. What a perfect world that would be if it were possible, but it is not, we are all human and in moments of stress most find it very hard to be aware, present, and appropriately responsive.
There are plenty of old sayings about judging something on how it appears and all of them are true. What we see is very definitely not all there is to see or know.
We cannot control how other people respond to their own struggles, but we can control how we respond back to them. We can pause, reflect, and have grace and understanding. A kind gesture or word can offer someone the space to process their own struggle a little more easily.
Remember, we are struggling with something. Do not assume from first glances. Be kind. It could change everything for someone including yourself.
Until next time be well,