Last week I had an interesting conversation with a friend who was complaining about other people treating her badly or even being disrespectful. She was so sensitive about a few recent situations that she even got into tears because of people not appreciating her and not showing her a certain level of respect. After a long discussion, we ended up looking into her situation from a different perspective and suddenly her life began to look a bit brighter. I am grateful to be allowed to share bits and pieces of our conversation with all of you.
Our perception vs. reality
My friend is a lovely woman in her forties, hence she has quite a bit of life experience. Her self esteem is not her strongest side (yet) and therefore she constantly thinks that every remark or comment that she gets, even someone else’s bad mood has something to do with her behaviour. Always! She is super sweet, super helpful, loving and caring. She is devoted to taking care of her family and all the siblings therefore she thinks that she must be related to every single thing in everyone’s’ life, no matter good or bad.
One day this lovely lady was really upset because her son came over to visit and kind of exploded on her after she asked him a simple question about his job. Long story short: the son came over to visit his mom, they were drinking coffee, she asked how was work and he started complaining in a very heated manner about many things going wrong, issues with boss, etc. When the lady tried to give him advice about how he could do things differently he was upset that she could not understand him. My friend could not sleep for a couple of nights and she was so heartbroken because she thought that she asked the question in a wrong way. She re-played the story in her head numerous times, thinking of different ways to ask the question and different ways the story could have gone. She was so concentrated on herself and her pain that she forgot everything else.
I was listening to her and in the beginning, I could not understand the problem. I could not get the evilness of the son. I was asking whether he offended her somehow or said something rude to her – the answer was “No”. I wondered whether he blamed her for something or reprimanded her – the answer was the same “No”. The lady even got annoyed with me, because I could not understand that he was treating her badly “because he answered the question in a very heated manner, he was nearly shouting that I did not understand him. Isn’t that clear?” Well, to be honest, for me it wasn’t.
My following question caught her by surprise. “Do happy people raise the tone of their voice? “, – I asked. She was looking at me amazed, “What?” She asked. I repeated: “Do happy people raise the tone of their voice?” She blinked a couple of times, “I guess no”, she said. Well, I thought so too…
If I feel good, harmonious I would not start screaming and shouting, no way. However, if I’m overstressed, tired or exhausted, I, probably, would not be the sweetest person on earth. “Neither would I”, she said. Then we started looking into situation from a different perspective, thinking that probably her son is not in his best place at the moment and by providing her with heated explanation he actually wanted her to pay more attention to him and give him comfort and support.
She was shocked. She wanted to deny it, but every argument seemed to be so fake… She became very silent, realising that she was so into her self-victimisation that she even forgot her son….
There is another side – ALWAYS!
It is easy to judge but it takes a lot of kindness and effort to understand. Sometimes we are so much into our heads that we forget the entire world around us. Yes, indeed, we first need to take a good care of ourselves so that we could take care of others. However sometimes we need to think of others in order to take a good care of ourselves. It is worth checking where the other person comes from before getting into self-pity because someone has treated us badly. Their story or situation might have nothing to do with us, it might be completely theirs. However, our vulnerable self-esteem can have a different impression.
It takes a split second to remember to think about another person before we get hurt of offended. And that split second can save us a lot of time and pain. It can awake us for kindness and compassion – the feelings that warm the heart rather than ailing it. Indeed, compassion does not feed our inner victim, it inspires us, it gives an opportunity for our heart to rule rather than our mind. Every time we act from our heart, we act with love, and when we act with love – nothing can go wrong 😊
Go ahead, feel and spread the love!