Have you ever looked at another human’s behaviors and thought a little less of them? Or looked at your own behaviors and thought less of yourself?
If so, you are not alone. I’ve been there, and honestly, I’ll be there again. I’m an imperfect human after all. But I’m trying real hard to be there less.
Behaviors are a result
One of the things that’s helping me: remembering that behavior is a result. There’s always a motive fueled by experiences, thoughts, and feelings that lead to the action – the behavior. There’s always a why behind the behavior. And the why is what matters.
When we stop and consider the why behind behaviors, things like empathy, grace, and kindness come a whole lot easier. When we curb our judgements and get curious about what’s driving a behavior, we have the opportunity to move forward from a place of knowledge instead of assumption.
People are like cars
You may have heard (or read) my analogy of a car, but I’m going to share it again.
If our car is running crappy, we know that. We’ve heard a rattle or felt it running rough. At this point, we have two options – we can continue to run it like this, and cuss it the whole time (probably) OR we can choose to fix it. But we can’t fix it unless we know WHY it’s running crappy.
The same is true for us. We might know we have some crappy behaviors or see them in others. And we also have two options:
- We can continue to operate with those crappy behaviors and cussing those around us with crappy behaviors
- We can choose to fix them. But we can’t fix our behaviors or cussing other’s behaviors unless we understand the WHY behind them.
This is one of the reasons I’ve found the Enneagram more helpful than the other personality typology systems – it is rooted in the why. Types are determined by motivations and not behaviors. It’s helped me get down to the why behind my behaviors and understand the motivations of others, which has resulted in me extending more grace all around.
Here are some other tools I use to help me consider the why and extend grace:
- Deep breathing. This is purely to help me cool my jets, as my mother would say. Taking deep breaths is a calming technique that can help bring us back to present and mindfulness before we jump to conclusions.
- Questions. When I was a teen, there was a commercial with the tagline “Questions – the anti-drug.” It encouraged parents to ask questions to keep their kids off drugs. I’m encouraging you to ask questions to keep yourself out of shame and resentment. Get curious. Ask questions of yourself and be honest with your answers. Ask questions of others and give them a safe space to provide honest answers. Then use those answers to make adjustments with empathy, grace, and kindness.
- Prayer. I use this one on the daily, whether I’m in a crappy-behavior situation or not. “Lord, open my eyes to see, my ears to hear, and my heart to understand that other’s have walked through things I have no idea about. Help me extend grace to myself and others as you have extended Your grace to me. And Lord, help me proceed with kindness. In Jesus name, Amen.”
If you’ve got questions or want to learn more, here are some things you can do: