Do we consider a newborn broken because they can’t walk? Do we consider a 1-year-old broken because they can’t read? No, we accept that they are at a particular stage in their growth and development.
If a person is an addict or has depression or cancer, it does not mean that they are broken. It means that they are at a particular stage in their growth and development. It means that they, and the people in their lives, are facing challenges. Challenges give us the opportunity for soul growth, and soul growth is the reason that we are here.
Thinking of people as broken elicits feelings of pity. We feel sorry for them and their struggles, or we judge them with condescension. We think he could lose weight if he tried, she could quit smoking if she tried, or the poor thing doesn’t deserve the suffering cancer brings. Pity, condescension and judgement are carriers of negative energy. Pity casts people as victims and condescension as not worthy. Judgement casts ourselves as separate from and above the human experience. No matter what your intention, you cannot help anyone by showering them with negative energy.
If we change our perception of struggle from seeing people as broken to seeing them as growing, we change pity to compassion and sympathy to empathy. When we sympathize, we see their struggle as separate or outside of ourselves. We may feel sorry for them and/or we may be glad that we don’t share their problems. When we empathize, we use our own life experience as a frame of reference to try and understand their experience through their eyes.
When we are filled with compassion and empathy, there will be no judgement. Then we can truly be of service to ourselves and to others.