"How do you know when it's intentional?'
I was talking to Fred, my own personal 'Dog Whisperer', about a situation that had arisen over one of the dogs he was training. The problem was not with the dog but with the owner, who was annoyed that their dog had not won first place at any of the trials so far this year. The implication being that the trainer was at fault. The girlfriend of the owner is a difficult and demanding individual, whose role in this, it seemed, was to point the finger, put the blame fairly and squarely on Fred. This was not the first time that Fred had had a problem with her, but apparently it was definitely going to be the last.
As Fred described the situation to me, and as we talked, he mentioned the fact that she had been mean, treating him with a certain degree of disrespect, as if he were merely a paid employee. I had pointed out the fact that he was indeed, just that, not that this fact excused the woman's bad behavior. But I also suggested that he might be a little too close to the issue and not seeing things as clearly as they were. "Maybe she doesn't mean to be disparaging, maybe she isn't intentionally mean," I said. This is when he had asked the all important question. "How do you know when a person is intentionally..anything?"
Sometimes we get ourselves in situations where we encounter aggression, meanness, cruelty, disrespect, indifference, dislike, and on and on.directed at us personally, or to someone close by. At those times, it is so easy to react, to react in like fashion, or to simply slip away and lick our wounds. Because we are hurt, or we see someone else hurt, we don't always stop and think before we act.
This is the lesson for the month.
We need to understand that in these times, it is easy to over-react, to judge from our emotions, to allow our heart to rule our head. And when we are dealing with relationships, and when we are trying to understand how important communicating with each other is, our heart can lead us to a rash and sometimes unfair conclusion.
So what can we do? How can we learn to know the difference between intentional and unintentional harm. The answer is so easy, and at the same time, so difficult. Take a step back. Take a moment to pause, to take a breath, and to ask your self these questions.
1: Did I do or say anything that might have initiated that reaction?
2: Was what I just heard or saw fair?
3: Was there any need for this person's behavior toward me?
4: Am I able to judge this situation with sound reasoning?
5: Is this about me, or about them?
Taking a step back, if even for just a moment, allows us to consider the many possibilities that might have triggered a person's treatment of us. It well may be that he/she was having a bad day, or that they have problems that have nothing to do with us, but that have made them, for just a moment, behave in a way they wouldn't ordinarily. Or it could really be that they are mean spirited, intentionally unkind and take pleasure in striking out at the most vulnerable of us. But unless we take a step back, and give the benefit of the doubt, we will never know.
We have all been that person, who, under stress, behaves badly, and we should be thankful that for the most part, those who love us at least, will give us a little lee-way. But how many times have we wished we hadn't said something in temper? How many times have we thought that if only we had bitten our tongue, things would have been different, better?
These are the questions you must ask your self for this exercise.
1: What was the worst "I wish I hadn't said this" moment in your life?
2: What was the most 'hurtful' thing you ever said to anyone?
3: What 'Spoken Word' do you regret most?
4: What 'action' would you take back if you could?
5: What is the 'meanest' thought you ever had?
6: What is your most 'embarrassing' moment?
7: What is your most 'cruel' deed?
It is so easy to see the flaws of others, and not always easy to see those same flaws in ourselves. But when we can see ourselves with our eyes wide open.not perfect but yet still beautiful in God's eyes.then we can better judge the actions of others.
The most cruel thing I ever said was to my father, after I had become very sick. It was one of those moments when, if you could, you would instantly take back everything you said, but you know it's too late. The damage is done, and the hurt you have caused is staring you in the face. I did not intentionally set out to hurt, or to be mean, but the result was the same anyway. I did hurt my dad, and my words were cruel, all the more so because they were not angry words, not said in stress or in defense of anything, they were merely a statement of how things had been when I was a kid. "Just think," I had said, "all that time I was so ill and we didn't know. And all those times you beat me..."
I can still see his face. He looked as if someone had just stabbed him in the heart.and that is exactly what I had done!
This is one of those moments when I learned a lesson. I learned to think before I spoke or before I took an action. To take a step back.
As you answer your questions, let your answers be a lesson for you.
Step back.take a breath.don't react, think first, give the benefit of the doubt, then take whatever appropriate action you feel you must.
Talk with community members about your thoughts on this month's lesson, or write us an account of your progress. We'd love to post it in our spotlight section for everyone to read.
Good luck and be ready for next month's lesson...
For more lessons and insights check back next month and also see our "Weekly Actions," posted, every week here in Own Your Power. Try, too, Rosemary's book, "You Own the Power." for more lessons about owning your power. Get this book and other Books and tapes by Rosemary in our online store.
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