There are two habits every person is often engaged in; judging and comparing ourselves to others. God knows, I am expert on these practices, so I know well why we engage in these things so often. We judge others in order to feel superior to them or to justify our actions against them. We compare ourselves to others to establish our level in the human pecking order. By comparing, we measure whether we have enough money or power, whether we are good looking or tough enough. This list goes on. But judging and comparing prevent us from recognizing one of the toughest concepts to understand about life; people—no matter how evil or unethical you see them—are doing the best they can.

BS, you say.  How can anyone say knowing there are adults who molest children, are serial killers or murdering dictators? While it is difficult not to pass judgement on people like this, the fact remains that, just like us, the environment they were born into and the people and experiences that came into their lives shaped them.

The point is this, while it is obvious that people with destructive behaviors are all around us, we should not let this dominate our view of them. Believing that people are doing the best they understand how does not justify evil, it simply helps you to put it in context.

It is better to forgive than it is to hate

As I come closer to the end of my seventieth decade on this planet, I’ve come to terms with the people who hurt me throughout my life. I have learned that it is better to forgive than it is to hate them.

Why is this so? All the years I lived filled with hatred for my enemies, I secretly sought retribution and recompense for what they did. This allowed the dark desires that look for ways to backstab, demean, loath and discredit those who hurt me to enter my mind. What I didn’t realize then was that I was only hurting myself while in this state of animosity.

Life is sour and depressing when one perceives it from the perspective of hatred. An enormous part of what allowed me to overcome an omnipresent sense of unhappiness was to develop the ability to forgive those who had aggrieved me.

If it is hard for you to accept the concept that those who hurt you were doing his/her best, don’t force yourself to embrace it. Opt for this other alternative; let go of hate. Hanging on to hatred sours your perspective on life. It invites into your heart hatred’s other companions; fear, revenge, jealousy and violence. Harboring these feelings keeps you in darkness because they block the light of your true self. You cannot find joy if you hold hatred in your heart. Come to terms with the darkness that surrounds your soul and you will find joy in your life.

We are not inside another’s skin

We don’t live inside another’s skin. We are not aware of the traumas and suffering that led them to cope with life in the manner we have witnessed. While we can assess the destruction of their actions, it is important to see that hurting us may not have been their intent. They may be so wounded and so angry that the slightest stress can make them erupt like a volcano. This may cause them to enter a fight-or-flight mode that motivates them to sacrifice everything and everyone to protect themselves. I cannot explain why people abuse minors, but it is possible their behavior is the residue of damage done to them that now lives in their psyche.

Forgiveness does not mean you embrace toxicity 

Accepting that another is doing the best they can, does not imply we should continue to come into their orbit and expect the best. That would be foolish.

Forgiveness does not imply that we stay silent about wrongs done to us. Those who speak out about their abuse clarify for others what unacceptable behavior is like so that we can stop those who act in this way from damaging others.

Forgiveness is accepting we don’t know what goes on inside another’s mind and, therefore, we cannot judge their intent.

Forgive and move on certain the same Higher Power living in you also lives in them. They too are being challenged to find their path and become their Highest Selves. Have faith everything happens in its own perfect timing and those who hurt us will come to terms with the consequences of their actions. This is not up to you. Learn to live in the light of love for all with the understanding you don’t know the full purpose behind their actions.

Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with a sense of joy and contentment.

Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash