Isn’t another perspective often just what is needed?
Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist teacher, tells the story of a man who was running late, walking fast with his arms full groceries when he and a woman collided. They both were knocked to the ground, and the groceries flew everywhere. There were broken eggs and spilled juice.
He got up and screamed, “Weren’t you paying attention to where you are going? Are you blind?” As the words left his mouth, he noticed her cane, her probing cane. She replied, “Well, yes, I am blind.”
How quickly the man’s anger dissipated into an apology and compassion. We are all like that.
At a recent family gathering I was playing cards with my nieces and nephews. They play the card game crazy 8 with the rule if you keep picking up until you can play a card. My seven year old nephew was in that situation and had picked up several cards, but was not able to play a card. Every time he had to pick up another card, he giggled more. He said “I now have so many options!” I was delighted, fascinated, and touched by his perspective.
When I was practicing medicine my habitual interpretation of a patient’s tardiness was one of disgust as I thought “How disrespectful of me and all the subsequent patients that day because it would put me behind.” When I started to ask myself “Is there another possible interpretation of this situation,” I often found patients offering their stories of nearly herculean efforts to get to their appointment with me. This of course filled me with compassion and gratitude.
So whatever is happening in your life get into the habit of asking “Is there another possible explanation?”
Just ask. It doesn’t hurt.
And it may help!