If you’re like me, you often have somewhere in the back of your mind (and often in the front) the desire to grow, to be a better person, to improve upon the person you once were and become the person you want to be. Over the years, you can look back at yourself, your ways of thinking and doing and being and realize, yeah – okay, I’m doing better. I am better. I’ve ‘matured’. It’s not often though (at least for me) that the realization that I’ve grown and am not entirely the person I once was smacks me in the face . . . the type of smack that brings a smile.
The other day I had one of these moments. A person I don’t know very well, but who I’ve had generally positive, friendly interactions with was suddenly not so friendly. I interacted with this person a few times throughout the day. The first time I was a little shocked and perturbed at her seeming rudeness, her apathetic attitude. The second and third times I was hurt and a little miffed at her blatant rudeness. My natural reactions were to wonder what I could have done to offend her, and finding nothing, to be annoyed and give her an aloof and equally rude response. Within seconds though, before I had the chance to respond, another, newer thought came to me. Maybe her attitude and rudeness had nothing to do with me. Maybe I should stop having the automatic assumption that a person’s behaviour toward me is necessarily based on our interactions or that when negative, it gives me any right to fling the negative back toward him or her. Maybe . . . just maybe this person’s attitude was about something completely different and I was only the recipient of emotions she had not yet had the time to process or overcome.
This was a light bulb moment. Rather than succumbing to insecurities and narcissism, rather than adhering to old patterns, I took a moment to try to see the world from someone else’s perspective. In that realization, I realized I had also come a long way. The Charlene of 10 years ago, heck, the Charlene of three years ago probably wouldn’t have had that thought, or at least not fast enough to change my response in the moment.
Now the thought that hit me – this may have nothing to do with you, she may not even realize she’s directing this at you – could have been wrong. I could have unwittingly annoyed her and she could have been intentionally trying to take it out on me. I could have been justified in feeling slighted, and hurt, and in colouring my future interactions with this person by the wariness and scornfulness I could have let it provoke in me.
It turns out the new thought was probably right. The next time I saw her she was pleasant and friendly and we had a great little chat. But whether I had been right or wrong the point is that I took the time, before I spoke, before I acted to consider my actions in the world from a broader perspective. I displayed growth I hadn’t even fully realized I’d developed.
I guess this work on myself is paying off. Slowly but surely. I guess I’m not quite the child I once was. Here’s to us all not being the children we once were.