We walk through life, brushing shoulders with countless faces, each one a universe unto itself. We smile, we laugh, and we navigate our storms, often oblivious to the hidden battles raging within those around us. It’s a truth that resonates deeply, not just as a casual observation, but as a core principle I’ve encountered in both my personal experiences and academic research: You Never Know What Someone Is Going Through.
My journey has been a testament to this. Years ago, I was the picture of success – a thriving career, a happy relationship, and a seemingly perfect life. Yet, beneath the polished exterior, I grappled with an invisible enemy – anxiety. Every social interaction, every professional challenge, felt like a mountain to climb, my heart a hummingbird trapped in a cage of fear. My smile masked a storm within, and the world, blissfully unaware, saw only the confident facade.
My research has delved into the multifaceted nature of human experiences, shedding light on the diverse challenges individuals face. Mental health, for instance, is an area where the external façade often fails to reflect the internal turmoil. According to my findings, a significant percentage of people grapple with mental health issues silently, fearing judgment or stigmatization. This underscores the importance of fostering an environment that encourages open conversations about mental health and supports those who may be silently battling their demons.
You Never Know What Someone is Going Through, But You Think You Know. Why?
1. Humans want interaction
Everyone wants to feel empathetic toward one another. Humans are social creatures. As a result, we assume, fill in the spaces, and act as though we understand what they are going through.
The fact is that we can never totally understand the experiences or inner feelings of another person. Yet, we continue to criticize, label, and categorize others based on appearances and our prejudices. Why do we act in this way?
2. Imposing our realities on others
At some point, we’ve all been guilty of it. When we witness someone responding in a way that is unfamiliar to us, our first thought is, “If that were me, I’d handle it differently.” The fact is, we have no idea what that individual has experienced or is going through right now.
3. Confusing comprehension with empathy.
Because we can put ourselves in their position and envision how we may feel, we assume we know what they are going through. In actuality, though, we are clueless. Our lives have a profoundly personal impact on who we are. It is impossible for us to completely understand how someone else sees and interprets the world, even if we have experienced something similar.
4. It pleases us to judge and label
Everybody does it. We jump to conclusions the moment we glimpse someone in the street or swipe past a picture on social media. “Well, it appears like they’re having a rough day.” “My God, their life seems so perfect.” To be honest, we don’t know what that individual is going through. We can’t learn anything about their inner lives from their appearance.
5. People are complex, and life is complex
Although we all believe we know what other people are going through in life, the truth is that we don’t. Every person has a different experience. Our childhood, life events, health problems, relationships, beliefs, environment, availability of resources, and a host of other circumstances all play a significant role in shaping who we become.
The Mask We Wear
People wear masks for various reasons – societal expectations, fear of vulnerability, or the desire to shield loved ones from their own hardships. These masks can be deceiving, leading us to make assumptions about others without truly understanding the depth of their struggles. By acknowledging that outward appearance may not tell the whole story, we can cultivate a compassionate mindset that fosters connection and support.
Empathy is the bridge that connects us to the untold narratives of others. Instead of making assumptions, take a moment to consider that everyone is fighting a battle you might know nothing about. A kind word, a listening ear, or a simple gesture of support can make a world of difference to someone going through a tough time. My research and personal experiences have reinforced the idea that empathy is a powerful force for positive change.
What Are a Few Indications That Someone Might Be Dealing With A Tough Situation?
Being social beings, we frequently believe that, based only on outward appearances, we know what other people are going through. However, there are subliminal indicators that a person you know might be going through a trying moment:
- Alterations in behavior or mood someone who is generally cheerful may be experiencing difficult circumstances if they appear depressed, agitated, or reclusive.
- Lack of enthusiasm for things they once found enjoyable. It’s challenging to find excitement for hobbies and socializing when times are tough.
- Inability to focus or make decisions. Focus and cognitive function can be impacted by mental or emotional discomfort.
- Sleep, eating, or hygiene changes Self-care and regular habits might be disturbed by sadness and anxiety.
- Expressing a dismal sentiment. It’s reason for concern when someone expresses a desire to give up or believes that things will never get better.
Even while we will never truly comprehend another person’s situation, we may nevertheless be compassionate and helpful. Tell them you’ve seen that they appear to be having difficulties and that you’re there to listen to them without passing judgment. Small deeds of kindness can have a big impact.
Explanations for Unknown Behaviors
All of us pass judgment on individuals and their actions without fully understanding the situation. In actuality, there are a lot of underlying causes behind people’s actions that we are unaware of.
1. Previous Trauma
Someone may be living with past trauma that affects their thoughts, emotions, and interactions with others. Traumatic events like abuse, the loss of a loved one, or a challenging disease can affect a person in ways not obvious on the surface. Be kind; you never know what inner battles individuals are enduring.
2. Physical health issues
Another possible explanation for behaviors that elude us is an underlying medical issue. People with sleep disorders, chronic pain, and other problems may respond in ways that are unclear to us. It’s advisable to react with care, compassion, and empathy at all times.
3. Environmental Factors
A person is complexly shaped by their upbringing, experiences in life, and surroundings. It’s possible that behaviors acquired as a child in a violent neighborhood or dysfunctional home carried over into adulthood. Attempt to be empathetic instead of judgmental.
4. Covert Battles
People deal with a lot of private personal issues and hardships. Addiction, loss of meaning or purpose, familial problems, financial difficulties, relationship problems, existential distress, and addiction can all show themselves in ways that are not immediately apparent to outsiders. Be gentle; we are all engaged in covert conflict.
Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” ― Roy T. Bennett
Someone next to you might be having difficulties
What is going on in another person’s life is never truly known to us. The person who may stand next to you—a stranger on the street, a coworker, or a classmate—is facing difficulties that you are blind to.
My family and I learned this lesson the hard way. The Smith family, who live next door, always seemed to have everything together. The American dream: a lovely home, two children, brand-new cars we were unaware that Mr. Smith had been unemployed for several months and that they were living paycheck to paycheck. They were in financial problems, but they were too ashamed to admit it to anyone.
- Although it’s simple to conclude looks, you can never be certain of the whole picture. It is simple to conclude looks. The cheerful woman you see at the coffee shop every day can be coping with a debilitating illness or the death of a loved one.
- A child who exhibits disruptive behavior in class may be experiencing issues at home, such as abuse, neglect, or a lack of support.
Try to show someone empathy and compassion before passing judgment. A small act of kindness or a few encouraging words could brighten their day. Never hesitate to inquire if someone seems strange and if there’s anything you can do to help. Demonstrate your concern for other people.
Our lives are shaped by traumatic events in ways you cannot perceive
Everybody has a story, and most of them are not very pleasant. The truth is that, based just on appearances or casual conversation, you would never know that someone had experienced extremely terrible situations regularly. Even though the wounds aren’t often apparent, these terrible experiences have a lasting impact on who we are.
- Physical or emotional abuse as a child can lead to lifelong issues with self-esteem, healthy relationships, and mental health.
- Losing a loved one, especially when they are young, causes a gap that cannot be filled and a melancholy that lasts for years.
- A major medical emergency or accident can permanently alter your view on life by instilling in you a sense of mortality and vulnerability.
The wisest course of action is always to be kind
1. You never know the challenges someone else faces
Everybody experiences difficult days, weeks, months, or even years. We have no idea the extent of other people’s challenges or hardships, even though we may believe via social media or brief conversations that we know what is going on in their lives.
2. Without our knowledge, someone may be struggling with disease, despair, bereavement, or money difficulties
A buddy can have lost their job, our neighbor might be taking care of an ailing family member, and a coworker might have recently had a breakup. Nevertheless, these folks put on a grin and carry on with their lives when we see them. Everybody fights some struggle; it’s just that others might not always see it.
3. Approach everyone with kindness, empathy, and compassion instead of assuming anything
Allow folks to have some leeway. Say please and thank you, hold doors open, smile, make eye contact, and offer assistance with bags or boxes. A person’s day or life can be significantly improved by small acts of kindness.
4. When someone shares their problems, listen to them without passing judgment
Provide a sympathetic ear and a shoulder to cry on. Say something like, “I understand you’re having difficulties.” Help and support in any way you can. Hard situations are more tolerable when one has a solid support network.
5. You never know who you might help or how your good deeds or words may affect you
Even while we are unable to address every issue facing the globe, we can still choose to positively impact it by acting with kindness, empathy, and compassion toward others regularly. Treat everyone with compassion and an open heart. All of us are involved in this.
You have enough life to live
Give up the notion that happiness depends on having what others have. Make the most of your own life and be grateful for what you have. Your accomplishments, experiences, and relationships are sufficient. Discover meaning in the little things in life and learn to appreciate the little things. In the end, you are the only one who can judge your value and life’s quality.
Thus, keep in mind that you have no idea what someone else has gone through or is going through the next time you find yourself envious of their seemingly ideal existence. Pay attention to your path; you have all you require for happiness, and your life is sufficient.
In a world where judgment can be swift and understanding elusive, it is crucial to remember that you never know what someone is going through. By embracing empathy and recognizing the unseen struggles that people may be facing, we contribute to a more compassionate and supportive society. Through my own experiences and research, I’ve come to appreciate the profound impact that kindness and understanding can have on someone’s journey. Let us strive to be a source of comfort and strength for those around us, knowing that our actions can make a significant difference in the lives of others.
Q: Why is it important to remember “you never know what someone is going through”?
A: It helps us practice empathy, approach others with kindness, and create a more understanding world. We might misjudge someone based on their outward appearance, so assuming hidden struggles encourages compassion.
Q: What are some simple ways to show empathy and understanding in daily life?
A: Practice active listening, offer a kind word or gesture, extend the benefit of the doubt, and remember everyone has their own story.
Q: How can remembering this principle benefit us?
A: It reduces the tendency to judge, fosters personal growth through mindfulness, and creates a more fulfilling sense of connection with others.