If you know someone who is uncharacteristically irritable, distant, or in any other way unlike themselves, then it is compassion and not complaint that is in order. People will hide things from us as an act of love.
They won’t want to worry us or let us down, or cause us or themselves to feel unloved. People also hide like that because we get angry when they worry us. We tend to lead them toward feeling guilty when they let us down, and we can withhold affection in spiteful ways.
Like an angry dog walker illogically screaming at their dog to come toward the furious person, we literally teach people not to come to us when they’re feeling uncertain.
We can tend to think of what their struggle does to us than what it does to them. We don’t enjoy seeing them in pain, so we want them to rush through the hard part. But if people are struggling, there will often be signs that we should not be adding the weight of our expectations.
Rather than get angry about negative changes in behaviour, we would be better off being aware, open and compassionate. Negative behaviour will always be born in negative thinking. To change the thinking we must create a safe environment that will encourage others to share their burdens with us, thereby lightening their own load.
Once people know they are loved without conditions then they can relax and begin to alter their thought patterns. But to do this we must be prepared to offer our best when dealing with people at their worst. We must not judge. This can be a challenge.
Life is hard and everyone has periods when they are carrying very heavy loads. The next time we want to get mad at someone for letting us down, maybe stop to ask if we haven’t possibly let them down by expecting the best of them when they do not have the necessary resources.
It’s important to remember, we generally can’t tell much about what’s going on just by looking at the outside of someone. The important stuff is on the inside. They’ll only share that or deal with it, if they feel safe.
Do not encourage people to feel badly about being dishonest regarding subjects that they are sensitive about. We all do the same thing. Kindness works better. Rather than forcing something out of someone, we’re better to invite them into life alongside us –as an equal. Plus, no matter how it goes, it feels better to share so both parties win.
When in doubt, always go with love.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.