I want so badly to condemn others for what I see them doing, not just in my mind, but publicly in this blog. It would be so easy. I had the opening paragraph already to go in my mind. I even had a title.

I don't even think anyone would blame me...

In fact, I bet I would get more traffic for that kind of post than I have for all of my previous posts combined - which is sad. We feel more heartbroken when a fictional character on television or in a movie gets mistreated or killed than they do about the real people we interact with every day.

I was so close, but then it was like the camera in my head panned left and I caught just a glimpse of what it was like to be that other person. I put myself in their shoes...

I know I wouldn't want anyone condemning me for my past behavior - I do enough of that myself. That's when it hit me - again, for the millionth, billionth time.

Life is full of ridicules and judgments. Life is full of hard, sharp, pointy personalities who need to make other people feel like shit just to make what they do seem less awful, whether it is or not.

But really are we all so different? When you peel away the circumstances and take a minute to look at things from someone else's angle, aren't we all after the same things?

  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Security
  • Acceptance

So why is it so hard to tilt our heads to the left or right in order to see something from someone else's angle?

Some of you might think I'm turning my head the other way, sticking my head in the sand, and refusing to see all the crappy things that happen in this world. But that's not  it at all.

I know that nothing I say or do is ever going to change someone else if they don't first want to change.

I'll give you an example. I smoked for several years. I put my life and my family's life at risk all because I was addicted to cigarettes. I knew they were bad for me. I knew I couldn't afford them. For all intents and purposes I should have just burned the money and skipped the cigarettes altogether. No one could tell me to quit, though.

Because I didn't want to...

So when I see a man use government assistance to buy milk and cereal for his family and then spend more cash on cigarettes for himself or his partner, yes I get mad. And yes I'd like to say, "hey, dumb ass, if you quit smoking you could probably afford to feed your family and wouldn't be a drain on society".

But what would be the point?

He's not ready to quit smoking (change) and the look on his face pretty much told me everything I needed to know. It was that weird combination of defiance and feeling trapped and fear. Like he knew he shouldn't be spending money on cigarettes but he couldn't even think of the alternative.

We all do things we know we shouldn't, for one reason or another. But until we're ready to stop and change our behavior no amount of ridicule or judgment or shaming is going to make a bit of difference.

So my goal is to raise awareness that change is possible and even though it causes some pain it's preferable to wallowing in mediocrity. But until others are ready, I'm willing to take a minute to see things from their angle.

How about you?

Published by Cathy Langer