There is a tool I use to keep myself in as non-judgmental a stance as I can – and that tool is none other than my keychain. Yep.
Here’s the story. When I turned 30, my best friend gave me a birthday present. It was a sterling keychain from Tiffany’s. Pretty nice, right? But as I looked at the gift I noticed that the initials engraved on the tag were not mine, “KA” but instead were as pictured, “BS”. I look quizzically at my friend… ummm, a scratch-and-dent sale?
She says no, that she had the “BS” engraved on purpose. So I bite…, and she says it’s a tool she learned in Social Work school. That each and every one of us has our own “bullshit” and that no two people’s BS looks the same. And for each of us, our own BS is huge and difficult, personal and burdensome. It’s a tool to keep me (or anyone) in a place of empathy and non-judgementalism. Because if I judge someone else’s “stuff” as not a big deal, then I can’t see it from their perspective, and we lose connection. If I define their stuff to be “too”-anything, then I’m in judgement, and probably in a should-mindset that again keeps me disconnected.
It doesn’t mean that I have to understand or commiserate with the other person’s BS, just to be in acknowledgement of it. I think at the time there was a supermodel who was suicidal because they couldn’t lose 5-lbs. And I was very dismissive, saying things like “oh, come on now, really?” when my friend looked at me and I started to get it. To the supermodel, 5-lbs meant everything – like the cover of Vogue vs. a Sunday paper department store circular – whereas to me it meant nothing. But their BS is theirs, I need to acknowledge and witness it, and not judge.
And so still today, I carry this keychain with me every single day, for 20 years now, to remind me and to ground me as to how each and every one of us has our own BS and never to compare, minimize, or “should” all over someone else’s stuff. It actually works very well!