We’re all born into this place, blue in the face and screaming for all the world to hear, protesting from the moment our lungs breathe the air of existence. Thrown into life, to discover your own thoughts, ideas, and interpretations on what its all about. Growing, learning, and piecing it all together, like a child knee-deep in Lego, locking them together one at a time in hopes they will create something magical… One by one, building walls and castles, cars and homes, never really sure of the end result, but they continue to build anyways. Brick by Brick, trudging on until arriving at a moment of clarity, one where they say “aha! this is it!”
What happens though, when your creation is too tall, too simple, or not the right colour. Judged, your masterpiece suddenly ripped to shreds. Demolished, simply because it didn’t meet the expectations of others. A barrage of suggestions on how to improve it, make it better, design it the ‘right’ way… They don’t see it how you do though. It’s perfect. Their minds closed to alternate possibilities…
Perspective. We make decisions everyday about how to perceive a situation, good or bad, right or wrong, and that opinion changes based on our own experiences and influences. We all move forward in our lives, perspectives in hand, choosing our actions based on what we think is right, doing the best we can. Bumping our way through the day to day, meeting with others and making conversation to gauge who might see the world through similar eyes. We want to share our perspective with others, and have them welcome us into theirs too.
But… the Perspective of others, now there’s a fickle beast. What we may know to be right and true, turns sour in the mouth of another. Like the Lego tower above, built with various colours and different shapes or ideas, arriving at a conclusion unique to us. Not everyone will admire the same towers, some will hate it even, and no amount of begging, pleading, or screaming at the top of your lungs can change it. They’ve made up their mind.
The hardest thing within the human experience is stepping out of our own mind and into the perspective of another. In order to do this we need to let go of what we think is right, what we think is obvious, what we believe to be true, and accept ideas that go against what you know. To accept the perspective of another person means to let the weight of what sits on their shoulders sit on yours too, and to feel what life would be like for them. No easy task.
Put yourself in this scenario: you just got a mouthful from your spouse, their words directly attacking you, and you’ve been left on the defensive. They stand there with a scrunched up face, waiting for your response… What you don’t know is that they just had the day from hell. Work was so busy that they didn’t even get a lunch break, got yelled at by numerous people while having to plaster a smile on their face anyways. Then, upon getting home and talking to you, they FINALLY feel like they are in a place of comfort where they can be themselves and vent, but unintentionally speak in a way that puts you in the defensive… If you knew the full story ahead of time, would you still yell back?
Or what about a stranger at the coffee shop who just poured unspeakable rudeness towards you for no good reason. What if they just found out their beloved pet died, you know the one, they’ve been best friends since highschool, and made it through hell and back together. And now, grief stricken, that person is trying everything within their power to hold it together. Would it still seem necessary to tell them off?
How about your children, who just… Won’t… Go. To. Bed! What if they experienced something during their day that really upset them. Now, having settled into bed, they feel ready and secure enough to tell you about it–and they just want you to come upstairs to ask for your reassurance and/or help? Would you stand firm at send them to bed, or would you offer them some empathy and hear them out?
The choice is yours. Continue to be stubborn in your own perspective, grinding against the grain, grumbling about the frustrations cast upon you by others; or, you can choose to recognize the perspective of others, imagine what they may be going through, and offer empathy. You don’t even need to acknowledge this to them, but it will allow you to move more freely, and put a stop to unnecessarily dwelling on why they do what they do. Observing these different perspectives doesn’t mean to ignore or change your own either, it simply allows you to open your mind to the possibility of what others may be going through, and how that may affect their actions.
So how about you–will you move forward with a new perspective on difficult people? Will you try to withhold any knee-jerk reactions, and first think about what might be influencing the situation? If you do, let me know how it goes! I would love to keep the conversation going 🙂
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