Picture this: You’re at an event and there’s a long line to the bathroom. You’ve been waiting for about 5 minutes, and you’ve just reached the front of the line. Just as a stall opens up and you’re about to start walking towards it, someone darts in the bathroom and right into the open stall you’d been waiting for. What’s your first thought?
Is it something like:
What an inconsiderate asshole! Don’t they see I’ve been waiting? I’m gonna give them a piece of my mind.
or something like,
Whoa, that was strange! I wonder what happened. I hope they’re okay.
Situations like this pop up constantly in all different areas of our lives — and our split-section reactions to them tell a lot about how we relate to the world around us.
These reactions help us uncover our current default settings — the subconscious beliefs that we allow to control our reactions in the moment.
Most of us can relate to the first reaction above, and whether it’s because we feel territorial, or entitled to the next open bathroom stall because we’ve followed the unspoken rules and waited in line until it was “our turn”, or maybe we just really have to pee and feel that the person who took the open stall was being inconsiderate — we’re feeling this way because we’re taking one thing into consideration: what we want — and we’re failing to consider what may be going on for the other person.
Only considering what we want, and turning a blind eye the needs of others results in an extremely one-sided, self-centered view of the situation at hand. This type of thought pattern is totally natural when we’re letting our ego run the show — so instead of reacting with curiosity and compassion, we react with (in many cases, unjustified) resistance and anger.
And holy crap is this magnified to the maximum extreme on social media — lately, it feels like a breeding ground of assuming, judging, attacking, and ego-palooza-ing (new word, I kinda like it!) with zero compassion or consideration for the people on the receiving end.
I’ve been working on being super mindful about my reactions and snap judgments and where they’re actually coming from. Do I know for sure that the person I’m talking to seems distant because they’re actually a rude person? Or could they potentially be having a really tough day and just need some space to regroup, or maybe some kind words?
The fact is, no situation has ever been made worse by infusing it with kindness and compassion, but many situations have been made infinitely worse (for all parties involved) by making snap judgments.
And if it’s not the time or place to talk to the other person/people to seek understanding, the least we can do is assume that they meant well — even if it’s just in the interest of preserving our energy and keepin’ the good vibes flowing. We don’t want any unnecessary negativity taking up space in our life (negative emotions are toxins, you know) — ain’t nobody got time for that.
I know that I always hope for people to give me the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions about my intentions or character — so it’s only right to do the same for everyone else, right? #GoldenRule.
It’s all about making the conscious decision to flip the switch on your default settings to listen to your soul instead of your ego.
It may feel like work at first, but the more you intentionally react with compassion you actually create new neural pathways in your brain that physically rewire your default settings. P.S. If you wanna look into that further (science nerds, unite!), just type “neuroplasticity and mindfulness” into the Google machine.
Alright, soul — let’s do this!
Originally published at medium.com