How can you know what is going on inside of other people if you barely know what is going on inside of yourself? I write this at the risk of bending a few egos here and there. But it's the truth. Many times we make assumptions about people, or judgments, or assessments, And this does not necessarily mean that they are accurate—but our mind registers this as a “fact.” And I know that some of my dear readers “have it all figured out” and “know it all.” Sometimes I still know it all until I receive the huge reality check from God. If you hear me out for a moment, maybe I will reveal something new for your “toolbox.”

I'm speaking about your spiritual toolbox. Everyone has one, whether they know it or not. A small reference note is placed in our toolbox every time that we make a mistake in our lives, (and I have made so many mistakes that I've got a trunk for toolbox.) It's like a card file, almost. When we finally realize the mistake, and make an attempt to rectify it or make amends, there is a spiritual lesson, a gift, a spiritual strength even gained, perhaps. We place the memory (without the pain or emotions) inside of our toolboxes for future reference.

This spiritual lesson can be so strong that the next time we start to recognize the landscape on our path, we are alerted: “Susan, I think you've done this blunder before. Quick, change your path!” If I can't hear that alert, then maybe I will do it again. And again. If I take that lesson very deeply into my heart, then I come to know it as a spiritual insight, and I won't even be on that path with the familiar scenery. The trees, the bushes...you get to be a veteran of mistakes and can see others walking down the same path. This is the part where we begin to make assumptions about other people. We see them on a similar path—and we want to warn them, but first we make the judgment. “Oh no...so and so is doing this thing.” What would be a benefit to our friend more would be to think a happy thought about them.

What does this have to do with the leading statement at the top of the page? How can you know what is going on inside of other people if you barely know what is going on inside of yourself? It has a lot to do with learning.

When we take a moment to pause at the beginning and/or at the end of the day for meditation or silent prayer, we come to know just what little thoughts run on and on, what ridiculous records are played back to us in stereo: “he said, she said...should I have done this? Did I really mean what I said?” And after these thoughts fall away, the peace comes. Our bodies relax a little bit more. Our breathing normalizes. Our spiritual insights, step by step, take us deeper inside of ourselves. When we give all of our problems over to God, and ask God to please help, we are shown the mirror. We are allowed to take a deep look into the mirror. But some of us are too busy to do this, yet we go around assuming that we know more about other people, while not realizing that we don't know much about ourselves or many things.

Dear friends, we all do this, and this could be the autobiography for my first 47 years. I chuckle to myself as I write this, because when this question was first put to me two years ago, I took it very personally. You see, I'm the daughter of a psychoanalyst, and was analyzed for the first 23 years of my life to the point of microscopic tedium. Fun? Not too much, but I grew accustomed to looking inside of myself for other “things” that needed to be “dealt with” or “fixed.”

As I walk on this spiritual path, I notice that there is an importance to spiritual introspection. We are here on this planet Earth to learn lessons, and our primary teacher is God. When we learn lessons, well, it's like mathematics or algebra. We have to go back over the problem to analyze just where we made the mistake. Maybe it was the decimal point, or we forgot to multiply by 3.14. Whatever the case may be, it is the same with our own personal experience. However, it's also good not to dwell on the wrong part too long. Just say thank you, reference filed...I won't let it happen again, and move on. Yes, tears come sometimes. That's the soul-cleanse. It's great to know that our bodies can be washed clean from painful or embarrassing blunders. We feel so much better afterwards.

We have many lessons to learn. We are all interacting with each other while performing these amazing tasks; we are jumping though hoops to keep our families fed, clothed, and housed. And then the lady in front of you in the supermarket decides that she wants to stop her cart in the middle of the aisle, blocking your way. Do you wait patiently, or push by her in a huff, or pleasantly say excuse me? Do you make a quick assumption about her either way? But how do you know why she stopped in the middle of the aisle? Maybe she has an immediate problem. This is a very general example, but I think that you understand what I am talking about.

Even people whom you think you know very well. Do they tell you everything that is going on inside of themselves? Of course not. With my husband, I give him a basic “road map” of my current “news” But I don't tell him about every ache and pain, every concern, some of the ugly things I learned about myself the other day. If I love him, why would I want to burden him with so much information? He may become concerned. Worry doesn't come from God—all negative emotions are from the other playing field. And we can't serve two masters.

Sometimes, if we are lucky and we are allowed to have a very special moment, we can see deeper into our loved one's hearts. But this is only when they choose talk about their personal experiences (without questioning or encouraging them,) that we can really know. And when we arrest our judgments, they may feel safe enough to do so. And if we don't know about their experiences, how can we have compassion for them?

So you see, we walk a narrow line. Mistakes are acceptable. And more so when we can forgive ourselves, and ask for forgiveness. The learning is rich. And our toolboxes grow. And when you abide to this kind of truth in your life, there is such a freedom.