Monday, 3 October 2011

Coz we need to respect that everyone's path is different...

We all judge. Every single one of us. It doesn't matter who you are, at some point in time you've judged someone else, unless you're a Prophet of God or a bonafide saint or Jibra'eel (Archangel Gabriel). Judging others is somewhat natural because as people, we're constantly boxing and labelling other people in order to validate our own existences and to establish our own places in the world and in our respective societies. It takes trying to fit in to a whole new dimension.

It doesn't make it right though.

So maybe at some point we think that someone is a terrible mother, or that some guy is a complete asshole, or that someone else is irresponsible and has their priorities all mixed up etc. And most of the time, we may even be right... but does that qualify us to make such assumptions and deductions about said person? I don't think so.

Look, it's always going to be easier to denounce someone as the degenerate that you want them to be... it may even be gratifying to an extent... but there is something grossly fallible about judging someone.

The way I see it, from all the hundreds and thousands of people I’ve ever met or encountered throughout my life, I’ve never ever met anyone who comes from a different species. I don’t even know anyone who may have encountered someone who’s from a different species. For instance, I’ve never ever met anyone with blue blood... or someone who doesn’t bleed. I’ve never met anyone whose heart is where their liver should be or whose kidneys function as lungs. And even though most women are inclined to believe that some men have their brains located in their genitals, this isn’t true.

So, if we’re all exactly the same... all built the same way... with the same organs and needs, it’s safe to say that we all come from the same Creator or Source. It doesn’t matter what you call Him, or whether you believe in Him or not, or whether you worship Him or not, or whether you adhere to His rules or not...

But more importantly we all have the exact same spectrum of human emotion. We all experience joy, sadness, depression, loneliness, anger etc. etc. at varying degrees at various times, depending on our life circumstances.

So to judge someone in their circumstances is in a way denying your part in that spectrum of human emotion. When you judge someone, what you're really saying is that you're exempt from those emotions that would govern your decisions - which in all likelihood is a lie given that you're hardly ever in the same boat as the person you're judging.

I'll never forget the one conversation that changed the course of my perception on the subject forever. I was chatting to an acquaintance and it wasn't long before she went off on a tirade about one of her relatives (a mutual friend) for leaving her (abusive) husband to move in with her friend. And during all the time she was yacking off about it, I couldn't help recall the times we heard about the abuse and wondered why she didn't leave. And then I wondered what on earth would I do if I was in that position... and eventually came to the conclusion that I wouldn't have reacted any different. I would have definitely left too!

And then it occurred to me that most of the time, given the same situation coupled with our spectrum of human emotions, most of us would react the exact same way - because the majority of us are the rule, not the exception. So it's kinda preposterous to ridicule someone else for making the same decision you would have made given the same circumstance.

At the moment I’m counselling a friend, Kelly, who is having trouble with a man she is currently seeing, Max (because I voluntarily counsel people in my spare time as a service to humanity). Well, she doesn't actually have any real problems... apart from being idealistic, slightly delusional and self-sabotaging... (which she knows).

See before she met Max, Kelly was quite content in her misery, moving along in her dysfunctional emotionally abusive relationship with Nick. She said she was perfectly fine before meeting Nick, but that something had gone awry and the result is that now that she’s in a perfectly normal, healthy relationship with Max (who wants to marry her), she keeps on finding excuses to self-sabotage and jeopardise the relationship. She wanted to know what's wrong with her.

To me the answers are simple: Kelly is so used to being treated badly and trying to please the wrong men, that when a decent one comes along she finds it difficult to accept his attention and unconditional love. She’s so used to the drama that comes with having a dysfunctional relationship that she can’t function in the calm and peace of this one. So, she looks for excuses.

Yesterday’s excuse was that he’s too clingy- but she forgot that right at the beginning of their friendship when he was the detached, cool, calm and collected bloke- she thought he didn’t like her and was even upset because of it! Now he’s decided that she’s worth investing some emotion in and has dived right in... but she’s too scared, afraid that she’s not good enough for this kind of attention, afraid that if she lets him in he’ll eventually walk out and abandon or reject her the way every other man in her life rejected and abandoned her.

I pointed out to her that in this scenario, the problem is not him or her ex, the problem lies with her. Her discontentment lies in the fact that she feels that she has this great guy who is everything that she’s ever wanted in a man, yet her own issues prevent her from being happy.

Now sadly, this is a common problem among quite a lot of women. We are all Kelly at some point in time. Some of my advice to her was that she should tell herself every morning and evening that she’s worthy of her intended’s love and attention, that God Almighty Himself has deemed her worthy of it and that’s why He sent this guy to her... and that she should make a conscious effort to start believing it too.

But it's all just words to Kelly. At the moment she hears me and she understands everything I'm saying... she knows that Nick is no good for her. She knows that Nick is not interested in her as a person. She knows that Max accepts and loves her just as she is. She knows she has major issues with her insecurities and her self-worth stemming from her childhood relationship with her Mother... she knows it all. But she just cannot internalise it yet. She just cannot make that connection.

If there's one thing I've learned in my time on earth, it's that every single one of us has our own lessons to learn and our own paths to walk. I could stand there and preach the Gospel to Kelly, but it would mean absolutely nothing to her until it's time for her to get it... until her experiences come together like a puzzle in her head to help her see the bigger picture and make that connection.

As her counselor, an independent and unbiased ear, I don't rush her. She needs to realise all this on her own. As a person, I try to see and understand where the next person is coming from, even if I don't agree with their choices. But I admit, sometimes it's very difficult, especially when you encounter a real asshole :)

So we all have our own roads and life paths to walk. Some of us get there sooner because our paths are shorter, or because we sprinted the entire way. Other people's paths are like long winding roads. It doesn't mean they won't get there, they will but everything in it's time. And until then, we just need to accept and respect the fact that we're no better than the next person. The only thing that makes us different are our circumstances... and circumstances and situations have a way of changing in an instant. Everyone has their own life lessons to learn and their own roads to walk, in their own time.

Kelly's story used with permission.


  1. Kelly's situation reminds me of the episode of South Park where Satan is torn between his current partner Chris and his abusive ex-lover Saddam. He ends up leaving both of them so he can work things out for himself. It's an age old theme.

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  3. You're a terrific counselor, a rare gem of a friend, really! I love your way of seeing things, and your ability to put into words so many of the things I've thought of in the past but have not been able to express in such a transparent and sincere way, the way you do.

    You're right, the only thing that changes are our circumstances (as well as how and what we manage to learn from such given circumstances). In recent years, I've truly seen the blessings I've had growing up, and have consistently wondered, what if my circumstances had been different? Would I have come out on top, or would I have fallen through the cracks? Would I have still found happiness and joy in the simple things in life, or not? Would I have still been quick to laugh? (Yes, I am that annoying person that easily guffaws at the dorkiest things. My mom says that I laughed like Santa Claus even as an infant).

    Perhaps the best thing we can do for humanity is to put ourselves in each others' shoes, and learn well how to empathize. Only then will we take steps closer to understanding one another, and building the necessary bridges that have been long overdue.

  4. One of the things I value most about the parts of my life that have been the hardest is that I can see things from many views. You're right though, we all judge at some point.

    You never cease to make me think! I love it!

  5. You remind me of my witchy friends who voluntarily counsel me. I use the term 'witchy' with fondness. Circumstance can change things in a instant; you never know what is going to side swipe you one wet Wednesday morning.
    You are inspiring and always leave me thinking.

  6. I love your conclusion: "Everyone has their own life lessons to learn and their own roads to walk, in their own time."

    And you are right about passing judgement. I will easily admit I am very judgemental, but then again, now that you know where I live, understand that I cannot HELP but pass judgement. hehehe

  7. Absolutely ADORE this: "most of us would react the exact same way - because the majority of us are the rule, not the exception."

  8. Judgement is a hard thing. I don't necessarily think it is bad, I DO think it is NOT OKAY to go around preaching those judgements to people. Things are always going to be judged "why does she wear her hair like that" "she could do so much better than him" but saying those things? Or not getting passed those things to see the people underneath - that isn't really ok.

  9. Heavy in meaning and true in words. Why can't I deal with it? This wanting a different path (or other people's paths) instead of dealing with the path I'm on. Reallllly have to wake up and smell the coffee.

  10. Azra,

    Sage words. Still, like your friend Kelly, people often need to walk that path to come to your realization. Unfortunately, many of our lessons are learned in pain. Such as when we decry the apparent flaws in another only to suffer the same pains as them when we discover the fragility of our own character.

    I am a little older than you. The only virtue there is that I’ve been walking down those roads a little longer than some. Of course, longevity is a double edged sword. Gaining wisdom and altruistically trying to pass it on is something of a challenge. Mileage seems to be a perquisite to accepting advice. The closer the person is to the age of the adviser the more likely they are to use the advice.

    If you are a virgin traveler its likely you can’t comprehend how much wear and tear the human spirit acquires from ruts, pot-holes, sink-holes, speed-bumps and other assorted and perhaps more deadly obstacles that are a regular occurrence on the roads of life. The more you have been beat-up the more you are willing to take the advice of the person who has been there before you. I try to give the value of my experience, especially to people half my age, but it can be a hard slog.

    All of us as we grow from our youth into our teenage years tend to feel invincible because we are in the bloom of good health and have a support network (family). This wears away through our twenties and by our late 30s our “tires” are showing some wear. At this point people listen. They are tired of being nicked and dinged. It is my fervent desire that everyone could assimilate third person previous experience. There is good in experiential pain but if it’s avoidable I sure would love to spare people as much hurt as possible.

    Azra, you are a jewel and my life is richer because of you.


  11. GB - I actually think that it would be good for Kelly to learn to be on her own, independent of any and all male attention long enough to find herself and resolve her issues.

    Michi - My counselling abilities come at a hefty price... the torture that was my youth *sigh* It's true, we have a lot to be thankful for and while we're being thankful we should remember other's haven't been so fortunate :)

    Angie - It's the tough times that make us who we are... that mould us into the people we become... and that's why some of us have the ability to see things from all points of view ;)

    Juliette - Thanks for your kind words. Real friends always tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it ;)

    Prixie - You're the exception ok?! Hahahahaha. I don't blame you one bit.

    Megan - We are though... more alike than different yea :)

    Deidre - I think that's what I have a problem with, seeing the action and not the person. I also have a problem with people who think they are above certain emotions...

    Fathima - You're not alone, many of us are unaccepting of our realities, often wanting different because we deem "different" to be "better"... only The Almighty knows at the end of the day. Here's hoping you find your path!

    Left Coast Guy - Unfortunately for me, I grew up in a time and a world where I wasn't afford the luxury of childhood. My tumultuous and traumatic childhood meant that I grew up way WAY too soon and as a result, suffered a great deal. Years of therapy and reflection and introspection and coming out of that nightmare has made me who I am today... which ironically, I'm grateful for because I would have never known what I know today if I hadn't gone through what I did!