Thursday, September 12, 2013

What do you see?

I was driving along a narrow with cars parked on either side of it. From the other direction came another car, well, a big, wide SUV. The conditions of the street–crowded with cars, holes in the pavement, pedestrians peering out between parked vehicles–called for careful driving. The SUV barreled through. I swerved to get out of its way and watched on my rearview mirror as it kept on going without apparent regard to people and property. Close your eyes and imagine it is you in the car. What do you see in the oncoming SUV? What is your reaction?

A few years ago I would have taught the driver a lesson. My reaction would have consumed me mentally and physically. I would have confused my sense of what is right with my ego. I would have seen a driver who intended to bully me with her bigger vehicle, who had no respect for others, who probably thought she was more important. I would have had some choice names for her, the kind I would have to bleep out here. I would have seen a contender, a competitor, someone who imposed themselves on me, my property and my time. This reaction would have affected me physically with a bump up in blood pressure among other body reactions. I would have carried this angry feeling with me for part of the day affecting my mood, energy level and productivity throughout the day. This would have affected those around me too.

Today I see something different. I see a person who feels pressed for time, who may be going through a difficult moment, who is possibly stressed, unaware of the impact of her actions. She and I have the same purpose of getting to where we intend to go. There's no competition. At that moment, I have an opportunity to share my space and kindness allowing her to process whatever it is she is dealing without added aggravation. I see an opportunity to help another. Stepping out of the way did not take away anything from me.

This anecdote is one example of the many we could choose from what we encounter in any particular day. Things happen. They can be good, bad or indifferent. It will depend on how we choose to see them. We can see arrogance, competition, disregard or we can see fear, insecurity and a call for understanding. Today, be aware of how you react to others. Respond kindly. It is not about you–even when it appears to be. See with new eyes. This will not change what happened or change others, but it will change your experience for the better.

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