A Veteran who was referred to me when I was working for the VA as a Health Coach arrived at my door. The chip on his shoulder came into the room before he did. When he sat down he stated that he was "sick
and tired of being told what to do," and went on to mutter something about the latest "stupid" program he was being referred to.
I said to him, "I can't possibly imagine what you have been through in your life, but I am here now, wanting to hear and understand you and I will never tell you what to do." Hearing my words, his body language relaxed
significantly. I worked with this Veteran for the last 6 months of my contract at the VA before the funding ran out. Unfortunately, he was very angry (the system failed him again) that the program that he felt benefitted him the most
was being taken away. I was simply grateful that I had a chance for a brief time, to make a difference in his life and the lives of many other Veterans.
I tell this story in honor of Veteran's Day, but also to raise awareness that when we interact with people, we really don't know what's going on inside them. As much as there are commonalites to our shared human experience,
we can't really know exactly how another person is feeling. Their feelings are a unique combination of their life experiences, personality and genetic make-up.
I often find that while people can be well put-together and look fine on the outside, there can be a very complex inner world that the outside world is unaware of. When we see people behaving strangely or doing something we don't
understand, we are often quick to judge.
Brene Brown says that when you get close enough to another person to see and understand what's going on with them, your compassion is often inspired. But even without getting close to a person, when we choose to be in the present
moment, we can step out of our heady thinking and get into our hearts enabling us to engender loving kindness toward others.