How Compassion Can Stop You From Becoming A Jerk

This is a story of how one jerk became two jerks.

It was a busy parking lot. People moving in and out. A typical Saturday in front of the grocery story. I was there with some friends, getting supplies for a dinner.

Excited about preparing something great for the evening, we had bags of fresh peaches, spicy pork, tomatoes and herbs to make a fun and great evening. You know how it is when you hang out with people who are passionate about the same things.

So back in the car with our bags of groceries, we start to back out of our parking spot. I am sitting in the back contemplating how to make the dessert extraordinary. As we back out, another car, in a rush, turns in our aisle and tries to get around us as we are back out.

Here is where one jerk becomes two

Had the oncoming driver stopped to let us out, things could have been easy. Instead the driver kept trying to squeeze by us. The friend who was driving, now upset with this driver (jerk #1), continues to back out further and further into the space, challenging the oncoming car, now becoming  jerk #2. We nearly collided because two people were unable to allow the other some space.

All that was needed was a moment of compassion. Compassion for the driver in a rush getting by – maybe there was something important going on with this person; we could have stopped our backing out and allowed him to pass. Or, compassion by that driver seeing that we had already started to back out and stop to let us complete the process.

Instead, like the north-going Zax and the south-going Zax in the Dr Seuss story The Zax, both drivers refused to yield. A stare-down ensued. Both parties were now upset.

How compassionate are you?

How many points in our day do we come face to face with something or someone and refuse to be compassionate? And, in the process upset others, ourselves and our day?

How many times in a day at home, with our kids, do we become the Zax, stuck nose-to-nose, unwilling to yield, unwilling to be compassionate?

Compassion is a deep feeling for the care and wellbeing of another, whether you know them or not. It comes from feeling connected to others – that we all share similar needs to be valued and respected.

We access compassion when we stop and intentionally notice others, then choose something that supports them. It could be holding the door, helping with a task or errand, forging a mistake, yielding to make space on a highway or time in our day, listening intently, or dozens of others things.

Reflect on this

In what ways have you acted like either jerk? How could the outcome have been different if you had acted more compassionately?

Remind yourself and teach your kids early that compassion and kindness will advances us in careers and life. Having another act like a jerk does not need to inspire jerk behavior in us. We have a choice. Choose compassion. It could actually help someone else out of their jerk behavior and improve our world.