My husband and I recently spent an evening out with friends. We had a great time, and did a lot of catching up. Then I asked an innocent question about a member of the family and WHAM! We were hit with an outpouring of anger, sadness and loss about that relationship.
The point is that you never know what's really going on in someone's life. You may see a pleasant, surface-level picture, or inexplicably bad behavior. Make no assumptions. The back story, the one you don't see, is why it's so important to treat people with patience and kindness. There is a story behind the smile. Read on...
I love to see the smiling faces of the people I love on Facebook. Then someone posts with a concern or bad news, and I have a moment of confusion. How can they still be smiling with all that going on? They aren't, of course. It's just a picture, a public face. If they didn't share the news, I wouldn't have a clue.
How much do any of us know about the people in our lives? Only as much as they will show us. When you think someone has it better than you; that their children are on track and excelling; that they are well off and their future is secure; their loved ones are healthy; and they have lived a charmed life and cannot understand your pain... think again.
Everyone has a story behind their smile, the moments of pure joy and deep despair. Envy and self-pity have no place here - they will only keep you stuck and feeling alone and disconnected from others. You have so much more in common than you can imagine, and what's needed are compassion, understanding, and a willingness to listen and share.
Be open to seeing behind the smile. Don't judge the book by its cover, because the story inside is likely to be similar to yours. Let your stories build community and nurture healing.
Fern Weis is a Parent Coach and Family Recovery Life Coach. She works with parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, from the homework wars to addiction recovery, and all points in between. Fern helps parents release guilt, end enabling, and confidently prepare their children to thrive and be successful through life's challenges. FernWeis.com | 201-747-9642