The Platinum Rule: The rule of compassion, putting yourself in THEIR shoes.
We commonly refer to the Golden Rule when assessing how to respond to others. I grew up hearing it time and time again. The Golden Rule goes, “do unto others as you would want done unto you” or “treat others as you would like to be treated.”
The Golden Rule is good. It makes us put into perspective the way we would want to be treated if we were in the same scenario; it asks us to consider what we would want done if the tables were turned. But here’s the caveat: the Golden Rule does not ask us to consider the feelings of the other person. In essence, it assumes that the other person would want what we would want, and it can lead to an unrealistic expectation that they should respond the same way that we would. But shouldn’t our actions toward others be guided by how it affects them?
By focusing solely on how we would feel in a situation, we are more likely to disregard the feelings that the other person is experiencing. We might respond, “but I wouldn’t feel that way. It wouldn’t bother me!” Which, from the golden rule’s perspective, makes perfect sense… But we must consider the other person’s feelings. Sure, you may not be offended by someone flaking on you, but they might. Something that you wouldn’t think twice about might deeply hurt someone else. And so, we have the ingenious Platinum Rule:
I will admit, it can be hard to sympathize with someone who feels completely differently than I do. And it’s OK to be surprised that something that I might have deemed trivial bothered them. But the most compassionate response I can have in every circumstance is to honor their feelings, regardless of how far their response is to what my own emotional response would be. It’s worthwhile to recognize that my perspective is not superior to theirs, and that by making excuses or justifying my actions I am resisting a valuable opportunity to become a more humble, thoughtful, and compassionate person. It’s through these interactions that we become more mindful, conscious beings.
So, the next time someone comes to you with hurt feelings, remember the Platinum Rule. Listen to their feelings, validate their perspective, and apologize if needed. There’s no greater offense than to depreciate someones feelings, no matter how different they are from your own.
Take good care of yourself and great care of one another.