You Never Know What Someone Is Going Through (10 Thoughts)

We never know what anyone is going through. It’s something we hear so often after tragic events.

It always reminds us of the importance of being kind to all human beings. But after a while, we seem to go back to a default of harsh judgment and not giving the benefit of the doubt.

We always hear don’t judge a book by its cover, but we still do it anyway. And frankly, it’s not always bad to analyze people from the outward appearance.

But it’s also important to look beyond appearances and dig deep into who a person is. To consider what burdens might be weighing heavily on someone’s mind.

In other words, practicing empathy. Here are a few thoughts to help you really take this idea to heart and be more empathetic to others.

Girl in dark room

1. Remember how much people don’t realize what you’re going through

You probably deal with a lot of problems every day in your own life. You might have physical or emotional issues that no one knows that you struggle with.

All the while, people judge you negatively in some way. They choose not to give you the benefit of the doubt or understand you. They condemn you as selfish or bad.

But you know, in actuality, you’re really just trying to deal with your stuff as best as you can. And sometimes, that may mean being a little selfish at times.

If you’ve experienced the judgments I’m talking about; you know that it doesn’t feel good. It can make you feel isolated and alone in the world. It can make some people think that nobody cares, which is a dark place to be.

So the next time you’re quick to judge, use how much people have judged you as a reminder not to do the same. Recognize that maybe the person you’re judging is feeling isolated and alone right now.

That will help you be in the mindset of showing compassion. And that compassion could be what frees someone from their current loneliness.

2. Practice not assuming things about strangers

When someone cuts off on the highway, we assume they’re bad people. But it’s also possible that the person was rushing to the hospital because their partner was giving birth.

A stranger might give you an attitude over a simple question. Again, you might assume they’re a jerk. But you could later realize they heard some upsetting news earlier or are just having a bad day.

These don’t excuse the actions, but it’s important to look at behaviors in context. No one acts in a way that appears angry or mean for no reason. There’s some kind of pain, hurt, or inner conflict beneath the surface.

There’s something that’s bothering them that they’re just not talking about. That’s why it’s important to give the benefit of the doubt sometimes.

Rather than just assuming someone is a jerk, consider what else is going on in that person’s life. If you can help them, you might notice a change in the way they act. And remember that sometimes things are just a simple misunderstanding.

Beyond behaviors, have this mindset when it comes to social media as well. It’s easy to assume people posting happy pictures means they’re having happier lives than we are.

But in reality, you’re only seeing the snapshots of life that someone wants you to see. Beyond the well-filtered photos and positive status updates could be someone desperately trying to be happy. According to the End Now Foundation, the reasons people do it include:

  • Desire for social approval
  • Not wanting to look like a failure
  • Instant gratification

3. Be accepting of people

We all want to feel accepted as human beings, so it’s important for us to accept others as they are. Sometimes that means accepting people where they are right now. People don’t always know well enough how to act or how to speak to others.

We just can’t fully know how someone’s upbringing impacted the way they currently are. Instead of judging and dismissing that person, try working with them.

Act in the way you would expect someone to act to influence them. Of course, you shouldn’t tolerate disrespect and always call it out.

But hopefully, in time, through seeing your behavior, people improve upon their behavior. Until then, try to be understanding of where someone is at in life right now. When people feel more accepted, they might be more willing to open up and share their struggles.

4. Remember how much you can affect someone’s life, even a stranger

Two stories come to mind that might best illustrate this point. The first one was a story I read in a book by the late motivational speaker, Sean Stephenson.

If I remember it correctly, he recounted how he was on a bus sitting near the driver. They had a great conversation that was filled with smiles and laughter.

He met up with the driver sometime later on after he got off the bus. The driver said to him that he planned to end his life, but having that pleasant conversation changed his mind.

A similar story that I’m unsure if it’s true or not involved a student. He was talking all of his books out of his locker and planned to go home and end his life.

As he was leaving, some other students were teasing him, until another student told them to stop. The two started walking home together. Years later, he revealed in a speech at graduation that it was that moment of someone caring that stopped him from ending his life.

There are probably countless other stories like these that have happened in history. Sometimes just showing someone that people do care can make the biggest difference. We have the power to be the lifeline that someone needs right now.

5. Remember you’re not the only person with problems

As consumed as we can be about our problems, keep reminding yourself you’re not the only person with problems. Think about the world for a moment.

It takes a lot of people getting up every day, despite their problems, and getting out to help keep things running. Some may do it begrudgingly out of trying to survive.

But other people manage to greet people with a smile and make someone else’s day better. Perhaps it’s because they know that their problems aren’t someone else’s fault. And if they can make someone else’s day a little better, it actually makes them feel a little better.

Personally, I’ve found relief in the past not to talk about my own issues. Listening to other people’s problems can be a nice break from your own. It also makes me remember that I should have more gratitude for what is right in my life.

Remind yourself that everyone you encounter out there is struggling with something. Have a mindset of wanting to help others who are going through things in life. Studies have shown people who practice selflessness tend to be happier than those who don’t.

6. Be there for people

Sometimes just letting someone know you’re there for them can be enough. Not everyone feels like they have someone they can rely on.

But you can show someone they do by picking up the phone when they call. You could also go out of your way to call them too.

Make it clear that no matter how alone someone may feel, you’re here for them, and they don’t have to be alone. They may or may not reach out initially, but perhaps they will eventually.

Continue to show up in people’s lives. Go out of your way to make time for others so they can feel less alone.

7. Never think that anyone’s life is easy

Now it’s true some people do have life a little bit easier than others. They may have been fortunate to grow up in more positive circumstances.

Still, you see a lot of rich people indulging in bad habits because they’re still not happy. It makes you wonder what that says about how much money can make us happy.

It’s important not to minimize someone else’s suffering just because yours is different or more severe. To that person, what they’re dealing with may feel agonizing for them.

You may not understand why, but it doesn’t mean they don’t deserve compassion. Rather than minimizing that person’s suffering, choose to be helpful and supportive.

8. Spread kindness and compassion

I genuinely believe if everyone was kinder to others, there’d probably be fewer problems in the world. Logically speaking, does the alternative do us any better?

It seems a lot of times people are mean because other people were mean to them. But imagine if the people who did the worst acts of humanity had been given kindness.

One can wonder if that would have stopped them from doing what they did. Maybe they would have gone on to do something extraordinary in a good way.

The beauty of kindness is that it can be done in the simplest act. You could give a compliment, positive encouragement, surprise gifts, or many other random acts.

And kindness can have an effect that’s widespread. You make one person feel good; they’ll be in a good mood to make someone else feel good.

Our society is more connected than ever. Strive to be a kind person. Be mindful of your words and actions by making sure they’re kind and respectful.

Let’s all try to be less negative and more positive to each other. You never know how much of an impact it might have on the world.

9. Check on all your friends, family, and colleagues

Your friends, family, or co-worker may seem fine, but sometimes they might not be. Some people may not want to feel like a burden to anyone.

But it’s good to sometimes just dig a little deeper just to be sure. Maybe ask them what their focus is right now in life.

If they’re in the mood to open up, they might share something that’s been on their mind. It can be helpful to also reassure those people they can talk to you if they need to.

Family, friendship, relationships, and human connection are really important in these times. It’s good to do our part to make sure everyone feels connected. Strive to be a good friend, family member, and person in general.

10. Share your struggles

Something that can encourage others to be more open is you choosing to be open. When appropriate, you could share what you’re overcoming or persevering through right now.

Knowing someone is going through something similar or just something in general can be comforting. It can also be motivating if one shares something that they, in fact, overcame. It can be just the thing that someone needed in the midst of their challenging circumstances.

Final thoughts

All the people we come across every single day are going through something. They’re sometimes dealing with challenges that we can’t even imagine. The ones we couldn’t help can be lessons that remind us to help others.

Keeping that in mind can help us to be a little more compassionate to those around us. A world filled with more compassion is a world that’s better for all of us to live in. Do your best to show kindness to everyone you meet. It might mean more than you’ll ever know to those who receive it.

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