The week before Christmas, I had an interaction with an acquaintance which left me… well, irritated. I felt disrespected and untrusted, that she hadn’t listened to me at all. There’s nothing like feeling as if another is treating me like I’m stupid to get me riled up.
I’m ashamed to say I aired my resentful frustration to a couple friends later that evening. With really no more purpose than to make myself feel better and to give vent to my injured ego. Oh, gossip… how tempting a snare!
This past week I had opportunity to see this lady again. But this time, I remembered to do something that always has helped me to deal with people in the past. I tried to get out of myself and imagine being in her shoes. What was behind her actions? What were her feelings?
And do you know what I discovered? It had nothing to do with me. While it doesn’t make the way I was treated completely un-frustrating, it doesn’t bother me anymore. I realized that it was coming from something actually sweet about her, something I can understand.
You know, there are people who are frankly unkind, unfair, and malicious. Imagining yourself in their position doesn’t make the situation any better, because they’re just being plain difficult. But many times if I can remember to forget my own concerns and view the situation from the other’s shoes… it becomes much easier to deal with. Easier to forgive, easier to be kind, easier to shrug off. And more often than not, when I act from a position of understanding and kindness, the difficulty and frustration of dealing with the other person diminishes greatly. He or she responds in kind. And my own heart is changed.
Next time you feel the steam rising inside of you, take a deep breath. Set yourself aside and step into the other person’s shoes. You might be surprised.
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1, ESV