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Grace and How to be More Empathetic

Grace and How to be More Empathetic

One of my core values is grace. The meaning of this word transcends elegant movement. I use this word in the context of how to be more empathetic and kind versus expecting, assuming and demanding. 


In my personal life, I want to extend grace when people need to change plans at the very last minute, get super busy and forget to return my texts or just need a break from the pressure and demands of life. My intention is to have empathy and realize that people are doing the best that they can with the resources, time, and awareness that they have, and it’s not my place to hold them to my own personal standards. Really this empathy should go both ways. I would want someone to extend that same grace to me when things in my life get too demanding.


One place we’re not seeing this shared sense of empathy is on social media. Every day, a new story comes out about another celebrity or influencer being “fat-shamed or mom-shamed.”   I have witnessed a lot of “should shaming” lately that affects not only the rich and famous. I see people being chastised for a whole manner of things. The judgment usually originates because those judging are holding other people to their own personal values and codes of conduct. Judging is quick, easy, and cheap as it removes the responsibility of us embracing empathy. 


When we judge, we hold people to our own personal standards, without taking the time to acknowledge that we have no idea what is actually happening in the other person’s life. We hurdle towards assuming and expecting, without allowing any room for the other person to be human. The celebrities we follow on Instagram and Twitter are a perfect example. Chances are, we don’t know them personally and yet we think it’s our right to weigh in with criticism and judgment on these small snapshots of their lives. What’s worse is that we use their fame as an excuse to hold them to unrealistic standards we would never place on ourselves or the everyday people in our lives.


With “should shaming” so prevalent in the world, how do we counteract it? For instance, I won’t indulge in the notion that I “should” be tethered to my phone, nor will I allow others to shame me because I am not responding/acting in the manner they are expecting. I get to choose where I spend my time and what projects and relationships I will nurture. When I witness a sense of entitlement, assuming behaviors, or unrealistic expectations in how people expect me to relate to them, I tend to back away and not want to nurture those relationships. 


Having this mentally all leads back to aligning our souls and following our True North.  With my soul in alignment, I aim to come from and stand in love. That includes loving myself enough to remove me from another person’s shame storm. I know that if I come from a place of more love, more light, and more grace and someone still is not okay with my behavior or communication, well then that is something they will internally have to look into. 


Look at it this way, if your values are aligned with your soul, another person’s judgment does not keep you from following your True North. It is merely a “noisy demand” that you know to ignore and continue on your path. I will point out that we do need to be careful when these “noisy demands” arise, that they don’t pull us out of alignment. This is a time we should be listening to our souls making sure our actions align with our values.


We need to realize we are only accountable for how we show up in the world and have no control over what people will think of us or how our communication will land in another person’s mind. With loving-kindness and grace, I will hold my own and then I will let go of needing everyone to approve and deem my actions as appropriate and worthy. With that same grace and empathy, I need to pay that same kindness forward letting go of demands and expectations. A well-known Bible verse Mark 12:31 reads, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Thinking about this in terms of grace, you can’t practice grace on yourself without practicing it on others.


Can you embrace grace over assuming and expecting other people to live up to your own personal value systems? Can you love yourself enough to let go of needing outside approval, and allow yourself the grace to just be you? 


With all my soul,


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