Photo Credit: Should Wang
Earlier today, I went to my favorite core workout class at the gym with Joey, a young guy who can describe the nuances of muscle movement in the body in ways I didn’t realize were possible. Joey’s pretty special, I even dragged my husband to this class once and he got into a detailed conversation with Joey afterwards about tendon injuries #goodtimes #thisis40.
Anyhoo, the class ended and everyone put away their weights and shuffled out of the room while I stayed behind to finish some exercises on my mat. One other woman lingered a little longer and then left the workout room. Right before she walked out the door, this woman flipped off all the lights, leaving me in semi-darkness.
Did she seriously just turn the lights off on me?!
I was smack in the middle of the exercise floor and there was no way this woman didn’t see me. It was a bit bizarre. As I held my side plank, I thought; “how RUDE!”
My first reaction was to believe this woman hadn’t been considerate towards me. But then I thought; “maybe she’s really environmentally conscious and just wants to conserve energy. Or maybe she has an agreement with the teacher that she’ll be the last one to leave and will turn off the lights.”
Who the heck knows what’s really going on with this woman.
Maybe she thinks the way I do leg squats is annoying and uncouth. She’s been dying to punish me for weeks, and she chuckled gleefully under her breath while hearing the satisfying flick of the switch that signaled her ultimate revenge. Chances are this last scenario is highly unlikely, and yet that’s sort of the assumption my mind made.
Stories. Stories. Stories. Racket. Racket. Racket.
Our minds are always making up stories that are often inaccurate and negative.
We assume the worst of others, or we take their behavior as a personal affront.
Most of the time, other people are in their own world doing their thing. Their behavior is about them, not you. And yet we often assume it’s about us.
Years ago in a workshop with Russ Hudson, who wrote a fabulous book called The Wisdom of the Enneagram, he shared a nugget of wisdom that’s stuck with me;
“We all need to get real about our own narcissism.”
He said this with a lot of compassion, love and humor.
I appreciate this line because it lets us off the hook a little bit. We’re all the heroine or hero of our own personal narrative, and that’s ok.
But sometimes we make others out to be the villain when they’re just being the heroine or hero of their journey and it really has nothing to do with us.
Whether someone hurt you intentionally or by accident, the more important question is how do you feel when you focus on people not treating you well? And how do you feel when you focus on giving others the benefit of the doubt?
To be clear, it’s still important to stand up for yourself, set healthy boundaries, demand justice or express yourself when you feel you’ve been wronged. And, it can also be helpful to notice the narrative your mind makes up and then question your default stories.
Sometimes other people are merely matching your expectations.
Have you ever been around someone who thought you were totally AWESOME (or funny, or smart)? Have you noticed that it’s easier to be awesome (or funny or smart) when you’re with that person who’s already inclined towards your awesomeness and is noticing your awesomeness all the time?
When we assume the best of others, it creates the space for them to show up more fully as their best self.
People reflect back what you see in them. When you shine the light on the goodness in someone, they want to show you more.
Today, I invite you to get curious about the times when someone turned the lights out on you.
What if it wasn’t really about you? What if instead of assuming the worst, you chose to believe they were doing the best they could in the circumstances? We’d love to know!
May you create work and a life you love, and remember to see the best in others (or at least remember not to turn the lights off on them!)