Our personal interactions are influenced by our distorted perceptions of reality. We often interpret the actions and words of others in the worst possible light. When our friend, spouse, parent, or child speaks an unkind word, we believe they are treating us poorly or unfairly. We then respond in a similar fashion, and our loved ones may make similar assumptions. This leads to a cycle of self-deception – we blame our loved ones while believing we are justified.
“We think others are treating us maliciously, or at least inconsiderately, when that may not be true. We think that their wrong-doing toward us will somehow make our conduct right” (106).
So, what can we do about this? We can try to give others the benefit of the doubt. Assume they are doing the best they can in the circumstances. Choose empathy and compassion when we feel attacked or wrongly accused. And, if an argument starts to escalate, stop to consider your role.
“A responsible step in loosening the grip of any lie we might be living is to ask ourselves, solemnly and seriously, this momentous question: “Might I be in the wrong?” (197).
How would it feel if you decided to be kind even if you thought someone else wasn’t being kind?
If your brother/sister/mom/dad is acting upset, do you think it might be because they’re having a hard day? What could you do to help them?
What does it mean to “assume the best”?
Warner, C. Terry. Bonds That Make Us Free. Shadow Mountain, 2018.