When we see behavior we don’t like, it is tempting to write it off. “I would never behave like that” or “how could he/she do that?” might feels appropriate.
But, is it?
Would you really “never” behave like that? Given the same upbringing and an identical situation, you probably would, too.
Instead, a better question is – “what would it take for me to behave like that?”
There always are a few situations that might result in behavior you didn’t like. Perhaps if you felt out of luck and stressed? Or, if you felt desperate to find a job? And, what if you were in financial stress? Or, if that behavior was rationalized because of good results in the past?
Asking the “what would it take?” question inspires more empathy than the write off. It is also a lot less hypocritical.
We are only as kind to others as we are to ourselves. One way, then, to be kinder is to learn to be kinder to ourselves. But, the other approach works, too. As we learn to be kinder to others, we learn to be kinder to ourselves.
Also, as a rule, it is good to be careful with “always” and “never.”