Everyone has struggles we are unaware of
“Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world.”
When I was a schoolteacher, I found that there was a common expectation among my colleagues and myself that our students should be able to come into the classroom in an orderly manner, without pushing or shoving each other, seat themselves calmly and give us their undivided attention so we could impart our precious knowledge to them. Despite this seemingly pervasive expectation, we would frequently find our students acting out in a variety of ways, requiring interventions to calm them and bring the class back to the lesson.
Sometimes this would require having a student step outside so you could get the class back on track and then go out and have a chat with the student. When I did go out to talk with the disruptive student, my focus was on helping my student change their behavior rather than on disciplining them. In the discussion, I would usually find that at the root of the misbehavior was some physical, emotional or mental distress. They did not directly decide to interrupt my class and become a problem to me. They had their own problems, worries and concerns that were manifesting in their behavior. I would find out, for example, that they had not eaten, one of their family members was in the hospital, someone had just hurt their feelings, their parents had just split up, or they were not sure where they would be living tomorrow.
None of this was evident when I was planning my lesson and visualizing all of my students actively engaged and participating appropriately. So it would be quite easy to see them as a problem student that is disrespectful and ruining everyone else’s education. However, in truth, my class was filled with 38 other human beings with 38 lives that were filled with challenges, heartache and struggle, as well as joys and opportunities. When I was able to learn this lesson, the students became my teachers and we all did a much better job of learning together.
I invite you to consciously bring to mind the truth that everyone, just like you, has had to overcome deep heartache, pain, suffering and loss. Instead of just reflecting on how they appear outwardly, remember that they carry with them a lifetime of experiences that affect them inwardly. As much as possible, bring today’s quote to mind as you interact with others and see how you can improve those interactions. John Bruna, September 2, 2016
The above is a an excerpt from one the daily emails sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community. I invite you to explore our community and consider joining.
I try to remember to do this but am not always successful.This experience you shared is a great reminder. I am sometimes in awe that children learn at all with some of the personal challenges they face daily.