Today, I've been thinking a lot about my interactions with others. Growing up, I was pretty shy, and I wasn't the best at making friends. Throughout middle school and high school, I found myself in conflict after conflict. Now sometimes, the situation truly was not my fault, and I was in a position where I needed to defend myself. As I've matured, I have often wondered how those situations would have gone differently, if I had changed my attitude about it. It's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment when you're angry. You allow yourself to say and do things that you otherwise would not have. I think it's natural for people to go on the defensive when there is a conflict, but perhaps, conflicts could be avoided if everyone learned to take a step back and evaluate their own words and actions.
One of the most important lessons I was ever taught, was taught to me by my mother. She is an amazing woman, and has a knack for putting herself in another person's shoes. She questions what someone must be feeling to act a certain way, rather than jumping to conclusions. Every time something negative happened with my friends, she would listen and then ask me, "well, what did you to do?"
At first, this question used to enrage me. Here I was, coming to her with my problems and she had the audacity to blame me instead of being on my side. Looking back on it now, I realize that my attitude that usually followed her question was completely ridiculous. She was merely playing devil's advocate with me. I now use that question as one of my guidelines on a daily basis.
Did I do something? Did I speak in a certain tone of voice that made him or her misinterpret my meaning? Did I say something shallow and uninformed? Is something happening in his or her life that caused he or she to act a certain way towards me? Is he or she actually angry at me or just directing his or her anger in my direction?
Asking yourself these types of questions are a sign of maturity, in my opinion. The world is not out to get you. Not everything is happening to you. The world is merely happening around you, and you just got caught in the crossfire. Sometimes, bad things are happening to someone else and you're just the only person around.
Reflecting on my behavior and on my thoughts has given me the ability to handle situations in the best possible manner. Now, instead of lashing back at someone when I am upset, I am cool, calm and collected in my responses. I know exactly what I want to say, and how I want to say it. I no longer say things I do not mean and then spend time back tracking, trying to fix the damage I've done.
I am a firm believer in the idea that you should always be the bigger person, however, in order to do so, you must first reject the idea that things are happening to you. The world is full of chaos. There is nothing we can do about it. All we can do is change our attitude and try to do better next time.