The beauty of life is that our perception changes over time based on experience and what shows up in our reality.
It's so easy to assume and to judge what someone else is going through until you walk a mile in their shoes. I don't think I really understood this concept until all of my preconceived notions and judgements of other people were challenged – and it's still an ongoing process.
I remember when I would threaten to leave my ex-husband and he would say that I'd end up like ‘Ivy' – a single mother that we knew that lived in a poorer part of town. The fear and my judgement of ‘Ivy' is what made me stay, until I became her and found it to be the most empowering experience ever. My perception of single motherhood shifted and allowed me to break down the fear and see the beauty through it.
Another example is when we discovered that our neighbours were getting divorced because the husband had an affair with a younger woman. I remember feeling rattled and angry that he did this to his wife and to their three children – until I myself had an affair the following Autumn. What I learnt from that experience was that there are so many other layers going on within a relationship that you can't know about unless you're in it.
I remember when I was a teenager there was this local homeless guy called John who was as cranky as Oscar the Grouch. He sported the most acrid stench and lugged around a blanket like Linus from Peanuts. John would urinate in store doorways and yell at people from a distance.
Apparently he was a wealthy businessman with a loving family and the word on the street was that he chose to live this lifestyle of homelessness to keep his family away from the sadness of his mental illness.
Too often we jump to make things wrong without knowing the full picture.
Another common judgement is that when you have more money you'll be happy and problems just disappear – they don't. You see the lessons keep showing up until you ‘get' them.
The best attitude to carry around in your heart is compassion – not only for others but for yourself.
The bottom line and the golden thread that binds us all is that we are all living, breathing, human beings. We all crave the same intrinsic comforts to stay alive.
So next time you think of assuming that things are a certain way, stop, pause and cultivate the awareness that there is always so much more behind the perception of a story.