I saw the following sign posted in front of a local church: Be Kind, Everyone You Meet is Fighting a Hard Battle.
While this is hardly a new sentiment it is actually more relevant today than ever. In the course of an ordinary day, we all chance meeting people and situations that will try our patience, and where a few hasty, unthinking words can escalate an uncomfortable situation into a conflict. Or we can choose to take control of our own emotions, and ease the tension and diffuse the situation before it grows into a conflict.
I’m not by any means advocating that you should allow strangers to take advantage of you or mistreat you just so you can avoid having a confrontation. By all means, stand up for yourself when it becomes necessary. However, sometimes we may be able to control a situation and eliminate the need for harsh words or even violence.
Since we only truly can know our own hearts and minds, consider the following in dealing with others, especially when they seem to be angry or aggressive:
Try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Before you allow harsh words or careless actions to color your own behavior, ask what could be happening in the other person’s life that makes them respond a certain way? What information are we lacking about their point of view? Unless they have taken the time to explain their situation and outlook to you, it is impossible to truly know at a glance how they feel about a subject or situation, or why it affects them a certain way.
Don’t judge other people on their reactions. You never know if someone is behaving out of character-perhaps they are having a bad day, or have recently experienced a major traumatic event. There may be a very good reason why they are acting a certain way that has nothing directly to do with your or the situation you are experiencing with them. Until you know their circumstances, offer others the courtesy of the benefit of the doubt.
Try to be non-confrontational in a tense situation. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked into raising your voice or responding in anger. Demonstrating calm in the face of conflict can help defuse the situation. When the other person fails to get an angry response from you it may help deflate their anger and give them a chance to calm down. At the very least, you will be able to work out a better response with a cool head.
Confrontations are an unavoidable fact of life, but they should not define us. Deal with any tense or unpleasant situation you must face, and then move past it. Try your best to let go of any negative feelings that remain. If necessary, give yourself a time out or take a stress break by deep breathing, exercising, listening to music, or whatever else helps you calm down. Do not let one bad situation affect the rest of your day and everyone you meet. You owe that to yourself, and everyone else you will encounter.
Here’s hoping you all have a peaceful, pleasant rest of your week!
2 thoughts on “Catching Kindness”
I like this post, Amy. Kindness should be catchy. If we all spread a little niceness each day it just may catch on. It’s true we never know what others are going through in their daily lives. Thank you for spreading the word. Hugs
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Thank you Janice! I’ve had some tense moments recently where I had to step back and realize the “messenger” wasn’t really at fault for the situation I was in. I really needed this reminder myself this last week.
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