"Be Curious, Not Judgmental" - Walt Whitman
Updated: Aug 2, 2018
I’m not one for tattoos, myself. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing them on other people. Truthfully speaking, I get poked with enough needles to even think of volunteering to get poked some more. However, if I were to get a “hypothetical tattoo” (yes, those are real and exist in my quirky little mind) I would have the above statement tattooed on my forehead.
Why? Well, I would put it on my head because Mr. Whitman hit the nail on the head with this one. What a wonderful world it would be if we asked questions about each others experiences, hardships, circumstances instead of making judgemental assumptions. What a wonderful world it would be if people inquired about your lupus, instead of trying to solve the mystery (of one of the most mysterious illnesses in existence) themselves.
In a recent “Lupus Live” chat, I mentioned how important it is to tell your story. I went on to state the reason why. It is imperative to tell your own story, because if you don’t, I guarantee someone else will tell it for you and it will not be accurate.
I am not saying that you need to carry a soapbox around and stand on the street corner ringing a bell postulating: “Hear me now, all ye ignoramus’!” However, if you have the opportunity to clarify someone's misconceptions about your illness, for the love of chocolate TAKE IT! If someone wants to ask, pull up a chair, sit, and let them.
If You Are Asked...Answer!
My four year old asks a lot of questions. The “who, what, when, where and whys?” are sprinkled on my days like cinnamon on my chai latte. And, I’m not going to lie, sometimes it's a bit too much cinnamon and it gets overwhelming. However, my son is one smart cookie - and he has learned (even at his young age) that curiosity is the fundamental principle of learning. He’s a truth seeker and every day, despite my occasional weariness, I aim to take him to that that sacred place - called Discoveryland. You get there on only one road ad that road is called curiosity. William Arthur Ward stated it brilliantly when he said, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”
So if you have the chance, light the candle. Illuminate truth.
What If No One Asks?
Now, there are some people in your life, like my son, that I am sure ask a lot of questions, but, on the opposite end of the pendulum, there are likely some people in your life that don’t… and you wish they did. You wish for once, JUST ONCE, that they looked up from their phone and asked you how you are feeling or what happened at your doctor’s appointment.
What on God’s green earth can you do in those types of stagnant situations?
Are you ready for this?
Turn it around. That’s right. Put on your curiosity clothes and ask them the questions. More likely than not, they are dealing with their own heavy load and knowing about your illness, pain, or upcoming surgery is just too much for them to bear. So, they protect themselves by hiding in their iPhone, behind their newspaper, or maybe by coming home late. Understanding their situation will help you not to be resentful of them not fully understanding yours. Inquire and “curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.” - James Stephens
Being frank- truthful questions and answers are not always easy things to hear and say. Sometimes people's questions bring up deep fears, past hurts and hang-ups. Moreover, sometimes people struggle with how to ask the right questions in a polite way. For instance, I once was asked how much prednisone weight I had gained while at Thanksgiving Dinner! So, if someone asks in a hurtful or embarrassing way, try deflecting with humor (my response: "Enough weight where I could take YOU down!" ) or attempt to clarify their question, while making it clear you are dissatisfied or hurt by their insensitive approach.
If You Are the “Judgy McJudgerson”
Take a look at this snippet from Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly:
“We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking on those who are doing worse than we’re doing. If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived shaming deficiency.”
Ever heard, “Judge not, lest ye be judged??” As Charlton Hestony as this sounds, there is concrete truth behind this theological commandment. And the truth is this: once you judge someone else, whether that be in reaction to something or acting out of jealousy, envy, or spite - you forfeit your right not to be judged yourself.
Yep. You do. You cannot ride around on your high horse, putting other people down, finding gratification in someone else's weight gain, or divorce, or children who are behaving worse than yours - then ride off in the sunset and never expect to be judged in return.
Time to put into practice the golden rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Or as I like to call it - Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Simple, yes, but not so easy for the majority of us. However, if you don’t enjoy having others make judgemental assumptions about your lupus and your life, then you need to put out love and not discord into the universe. As one of my personal heroes states, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” - MLK
I call it the “Stop, Drop,and Love” mantra. You stop the perpetuation to exchange hate for hate by dropping the issue, then, turn around and forgive and love the person instead of judging them. Try it sometime. Instead of attempting to get an instant “judgy” fix of fleeting gratification, doing the right thing will surprise you with an overall sense of peace.
Listen, we are ALL works in progress, but understanding our role in how others treat us and we treat others - is just as important as being validated ourselves.
Be the one who asks the questions.
Be the one who graciously answers.
Be the one who loves.
**All resources provided by this blog are for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. Kelli encourages you to always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns regarding your illness. All intellectual property and content on this site and in this blog is owned by morethanlupus.com. This includes materials protected by copyright, trademark, or patent laws. Copyright, More Than Lupus, 2018.