How many times have you found yourself offended by the words and deeds of another person that may have been unwarranted? Even if you knew your feelings were likely unjust, still you found yourself filled with angst and fury and lashed out or made a rash decision based on the emotional whirlpool pulling you down to your lowest desperate state.
So you strike out, do or say something in your defense because in this emotional chaos, you can think of nothing more than self preservation at all costs.
You rationalize your thoughts and actions based on the truth you are able to extract from the all the data that you have access to. Using your perception you convert the results of your research and statistics to come to a cognitive conclusion justifying the torrential chaos you felt in that moment based on your interpretation.
This happens every day, and how can you blame anyone for perceiving everyday occurrences via their individual perception? You can’t. Why? Because we can only determine that is really truth from within. Only we know what is true for us based on our own interpretation of the information available to us at the time.
In example, take a look at Jasmine and Darnell. They are in their early thirties, recently involved in a romantic courtship and things are going so very well. They are professing their love for each other and even talking about spending the rest of their lives together.
On their six month anniversary, Darnell makes reservations for a quaint bistro, picks up a card and a teddy bear with a heart on its tummy and presents them to Jasmine when he comes calling to pick her up for their scheduled date.
Jasmine greets him at the door enthusiastically. Darnell holds out the bear and card to Jasmine, as her countenance immediately shifts to contempt and anger. She throws the bear into the street, rips the card into pieces and throws the pieces at Darnell’s face and kicks him off the porch while shouting disrespectful obscenities and slams the door as Darnell falls to the ground.
After driving away and pulling over to the side of the road, Darnell texts Jasmine, which does not go through, then tries to call to discover his number’s already been blocked.
Looking for emotional support, the couple reaches out to their friends in an effort to cope with the ensuing chaos. Jasmine tells her friends that Darnell is a manipulative predator, nothing short of a rapist, while Darnell spins tales of Jasmine’s severe mental disorders. Friends rally around the couple. Damages follow, some that are irreparable.
Knowing the details of Jasmine’s struggle with her past doesn’t justify her outburst and reaction to the otherwise innocuous display of affection. Issues she’s been battling within since childhood predicted her response with high-precision accuracy. Likewise, Darnell’s accusations of Jasmine’s mental instability were based on triggers from his past.
From their perspective they are both telling stories based on the truth they believe, as real to them as gravity, yet things aren’t always what they seem and neither of them have as much information as I have (purposely filtered) additionally I am certain there is much more information yet to be uncovered.
Jasmine would fare much better in the same circumstance today, because she has worked though many of the unresolved issues of her past and while she still tends to be quite impulsive, is training herself to pause (and count to three to herself) before responding, reacting or pressing “send” when she is feeling overwhelmed. This brief hesitation gives her just enough space to consider possibilities, ramifications and helps her to manage her truth and consequences.
Don’t judge someone based on surface information because you may have no idea what lies beneath the surface. We all have lives consisting of a plethora of past experiences, beliefs and misinterpretations the sum of which has gotten us this far. After all, we’re all doing the best we can with what we have. This is why we are cautioned to never judge a book by its cover.
If we are to have any faith in our ability to successfully share this planet with other inhabitants, we must find ways to stop dividing us one against the other, discover how to get along with each other and accept that we are all parts of the same soup, even though we all are so very different.
No one is blaming you or me for our perception or interpretation, because in heat of the moment it’s all we have to determine what is truth as it influences how i feel about you, how you feel about me and how we feel about ourselves.
In fact in all things perception is reality and subject to change pending accumulation of additional data.
Pausing in an effort to avoid making a rash decision or burning a bridge beyond repair like Jasmine does now, might be sound advice for all of us.
All you can do is to try not to judge or react too promptly, accept others for who they are and where they are at in their life’s journey and discover how to make yourself happy as you live a better life. A little tolerance goes a long way.
For me, I try to imagine what it must be like to the person who is reacting, put myself in their shoes and look for the love. While I haven’t perfected this method because I too, can react in self defense in the heat of the moment… but as immediately as possible look with empathy for love in the wings.
We’re all in process, for if we weren’t, we would not be. Let’s make the best of it.