Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mistaking Action for Intentions



I crashed through the towering pines, heedless of the thickets. I didn't watch for snakes. I didn't even notice which direction I was headed. I was only aware of the pain in my soul, the repeated actions that made me feel I was expendable, the feeling of being overwhelmed by so many criticisms. As I rushed, tears came. I pushed on. "How can they?" I questioned. "How can they care so little? Treat me like I don't matter? How can they dismiss my concerns, tell me I fabricate things looking for attention. Who wants their attention when it is always critical?"

When I look back on those years of my life and see the struggles I endured, the pain I suffered at feeling uncared for or misunderstood or judged unkindly, I also see where I needed to grow. I see I sometimes took things personally, or had unrealistic expectations of others, even as I suffered because I was not trusted or valued or approved. 

I don't blame myself now for not seeing this clearly. I was very young at the time, and needed guidance on how to be emotionally mature. I needed someone to model for me how you step back and see the bigger picture. But that guidance was missing. I realize now, it was because the individuals themselves did not know how to be emotionally mature. Instead, they blamed it all on me. And so the cycle of abuse, the trauma and turmoil was perpetrated. 

I realize now how often we look at things personally, and mistake an individual's actions as their intentions. Emotional Maturity teaches us to step back, see the bigger picture, and realize my interpretation is only one interpretation. There are at least two interpretations to every interchange, mine and the intentions of the person acting. And there are many things affecting that situation. The person could have just gotten bad news, or suffering some mishap themselves, or just plain tired. It is not always me.

The ability to step back and see the bigger picture can change our lives. It can take the sting out of things said or done that sound disrespectful.

The bigger picture will help you see that we often mistake a person's actions because we add intentions to it. And the intentions we assign are our intentions, what we would mean if we had said or done such a thing. 

We help ourselves when we give ourselves time for calming after being upset. Then, when we have calmed ourselves, we need to step back and think of other interpretations of the words or actions.

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