Remembering that we are all doing our best and “trying to get by” can help us to be more compassionate when we want to judge someone or withhold giving them help they need in some small way.

As I have mentioned in the past, I’m a recovering road rager. I used to view it as a healthy outlet for anger, but now I just see it as a ticking time bomb that could have hurt myself or worse someone else. These days, when I see the familiar sight of someone rushing up on my bumper, ready to tailgate me until I turn or move over, I try letting it roll off of my back. Everyone once in a while the old familiar urge to passive aggressively slow down or drive side by side with the car in the lane next to me so they can’t go around me will creep in. When that happened to me today I was in a peaceful mood but I still considered it. The guy behind me was chomping at the bit to get going. When we stopped at a red light I could see him biting his fingernails in my rearview mirror and he had a bunch of boxes in the back of his car. When I noticed these things I immediately thought, “let him go around, maybe he’s late and he’s just trying to get by.” This was true, he was just trying to get by me, but he was also just trying to get by in life, and that is the thought I had. We all are. No matter how together we may have it, we all have at least one area of our life where we feel like we are just trying to get by, or in my case a few.

Maybe the guy behind me was in a hurry because his wife was in labor. Perhaps the person who cut in front of you at the airport is trying to get home to see a sick parent before they pass away. You never know why someone is struggling to get by, but a kind and gentle thing to do is to give them a free pass to go ahead.

Image source: Ed Ruscha