Understanding is Relative

The following story was circulating on Facebook:
A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs a better laundry soap.” Her husband looks on but remains silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: ” Look she has finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?” Replies the husband, ” I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

And so with life…What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.

This story so hit home with me. I was brought up in a very judgmental household. I never realized how much I used to presume and judge others and situations until one day my husband (then boyfriend), thankfully, pointed it out to me (yes, I still married him!)

We often make monumental mistakes when we judge other people and their actions. We see the world through “life experience” tinted glasses. Before we move to judgment we should always take a step back and examine how and why we came to a conclusion or, at the very least, understand that we may not have a clear view (all the facts). We need to stay open to the possibility that there is information we are missing. i.e. Is the woman on line holding everyone up because she is being inconsiderate or is she having a bad day and forgot her wallet? Is that really obese person lazy and gross or is he doing battle with a disorder/disease? Until you know the whole picture and, even then, unless you are personally going through the exact same thing, you can never fully understand what it going on with another individual. Emoting good wishes instead of hurtling daggers of judgment benefits everyone. You will be amazed how pleasurable life is when you openly look for and begin to perceive a broader view of the world.

Another point in the story above which is often overlooked is that the husband let the wife continue misjudging her neighbor for a month. I can tell you that not only was I shocked by the realization that I was acting like a true member of my family (something I strive to avoid) I was also grateful to be shown the error of my ways. However, to be honest, I was also annoyed with my husband for taking so long to tell me. If you hear someone being judgmental or simply misjudging, then tell them. They may not appreciate it but then again you never know unless you try.

Understanding that we all view the world from our own perspectives is one of the most important lessons one can learn as a Healthcare Provider. While waiting for a movie to start I was channel surfacing and came across a hospital drama (could not tell you which one, sorry). A young female doctor was frustrated because she could not convince her professional model patient, suffering from a rare cancer of the jaw, to have the surgery which would save her life by removing a large piece of her mandible (Jaw bone). The model wanted to look into alternative methods before having her face permanently altered. The Doctor, presuming it was all about the model’s vanity, asked her supervisor for advice and the supervisor’s reply was “stop judging your patient”. Totally not what the she expected to hear. It forced her to take a step back and examine her own perceptions. She realized that she was in fact looking at the situation through her own personal references, a person who’s identity revolved around her intelligence not her appearance. What proceeded was a very open and honest conversation between Doctor and Patient, which I might add started with the Doctor apologizing. Taking the time to try and understand exactly where our clients are coming from should be the first step in every treatment.

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

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