Tag Archives: advice

Catching Kindness

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.

You can never know when a stranger is struggling. http://www.quoteswave.com

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!



Asking for and Accepting Help

When was the last time you truly felt overwhelmed by some crisis or obstacle you had to face, but you did not want to admit, even to yourself, that the problem existed, or that you would be unable to resolve it on your own?  I’m not talking about something simple, like lifting a 50-pound bag of dogfood; I have no trouble at all asking my husband or son for help with that.  I’m talking about something much more serious, like accidentally forgetting to back up a critical file on a computer, or dealing with injuries caused in a car accident.

07.01.2012 - His Hand
We all need a little help from time to time.  Photo by Jlhopgood on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

The truth is no one is perfect; we all have shortcomings we struggle with on a regular basis.  There will always be situations where we need advice, support, and/or assistance from others, even if the last thing we want to do is ask for help.

There is a commonly held myth that accepting ourselves as we are, flaws and all, and asking for help when we need it, becomes easier as we grow more mature.  This is not necessarily the case; completely accepting our whole selves as we truly are is something we all struggle with from time to time.

  • Often pride gets in the way of admitting when we need help, both to ourselves and others. It is natural to want to feel that we are capable, to present an image that is confident and competent.  Unfortunately we may sometimes tend to use others’ perceptions of us as a mirror to bolster our self-confidence, without admitting that the image perceived by others doesn’t necessarily match what we feel inside.
  • Our own insecurities don’t always allow us to ask for the help we truly need. We may worry that our requests will meet with rejection, belittlement, or that others will think we are lacking in some way.
  • Sometimes we fear that those we would ask for help will think less of us for being weak. Weaknesses can be exploited by individuals or groups that prey on our feelings, that seek to make themselves look better at our expense.  To ask for help requires that we open up, and allow others to see our vulnerabilities.  To do so, even with people we trust, means facing our fears.

No one who truly cares about us is going to intentionally take advantage of our needs, insecurities, and weaknesses, but the irrational parts of our minds can’t always believe this to be true.  Perhaps we have been hurt before, by someone who used us to express their own weakness, their own insecurities, in a bid to make themselves feel better.  Perhaps we aren’t sure who we can trust.

When we are truly in crisis, ignoring the problem won’t bring the resolution we need; we must find a solution even if that means asking for help.  I know from personal experience it can be a scary thing to do, but if you go to a loved one or a true friend, have faith they will understand.  Someone who is worthy of your attention and your help in turn, will not judge, but do their best to assist you.

My advice is this: learn to accept counsel and assistance from others.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, even if it is uncomfortable to do so.  Listen to opinions others may offer, but make your own choices.  When in turn someone comes to you for help, put yourself in their place, and remember how it felt when you were the one in need.  It truly is okay to ask and receive help; after all, we are all only human.