You are not a mind reader and neither is anyone else.
Ok, so you are now acknowledging your feelings and taking ownership of them. What’s next? Are you ready for this? You don’t know what other people are thinking and feeling or why they do what they do. And likewise they don’t know what you are thinking and feeling and why you do what you do. Duh. Right. No brainer. You’re saying “This is an easy one Molly”. I got this. Wrong. This step is so easy to say but soooooo hard to do. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you were working late. You’re tired and mentally exhausted. You just want to go home, kiss the kids goodnight and take a long, hot shower. As you drive home you are thinking how lucky you are that your husband could take care of the kids – feeding them, giving them a bath, putting them to bed. What a relief that you can just go home and relax. The second you walk through the door all that relief drains from your body. You see the dirty dishes sitting in the sink, the kids are still not only awake – but are running around a homemade fort screaming and yelling like wild animals. You can feel your blood pressure rising. How could he do this? How could he just let the dishes sit there for you to do? How could the kids still be up and playing? Why don’t they care about you and the horrible day you have had? You start yelling and the play stops cold.
The woman in this scenario had every right to get mad. She felt completely disrespected and unloved at that moment. She just wanted to come home to a quiet house and relax. Was that too much to ask? I’ve been there. You’ve been there. You know how she feels. She had every right to be mad. It’s ok for her to be mad. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be mad. But…… if you’re mad, you’re not happy. You’re not at peace. And that’s what this is about. Being at peace. So, let’s stop and rewind. What if she could have been a little birdie and saw what was going on in her house that night. She would have seen that her husband and kids had a wonderful night of fun and play. If she could have read her husband’s mind she would have known that he was letting them stay up late so they could see Mom. He felt bad that he was having so much fun while she worked. After all, it was a Friday, they could sleep late in the morning. He planned to do the dishes after the kids went to bed and she was taking a nice hot shower. Then he planned to have a relaxing evening with his beautiful wife. But…… she couldn’t read his mind. She didn’t know what he was thinking or planning. Just like he couldn’t read her mind. He doesn’t know what she is thinking or feeling.
So what could have happened? Don’t you wish we had a rewind button? I do. If she could rewind, she could have walked in, saw the fun and joined in. She could have played in the fort and soaked up her children’s laughter. She could have let her husband do the dishes while she took that long, hot shower. The lesson is we don’t know what other people are thinking. Don’t assume to know what’s happening. Before you let yourself get mad, stop and take a breath. Here’s the steps that she should have taken: 1 Acknowledge that she is mad and frustrated that the kids are up, the house is torn apart and the dishes are in the sink. She could have said “I’m mad and that’s ok because I’m going to work to bring peace to my life. 2. She could have said, I don’t know what’s happening, I just know what I see. And she could have just said “Hello”. That would have saved her so much heartache and pain. Just ask “What’s happening?”.
Did I mention that this step is sooooo hard? It is. I am much more likely to just assume that people don’t care about me and get mad. One of my best attributes is that I’m sensitive. One of my worst attributes is that I’m sensitive. I’m sensitive. I feel things deeply and I take things personally. I’m working on that. We can’t assume that we know what people are thinking or feeling. We can’t take things personally. So much easier said than done. So I like handy suggestions and guidance. Here’s what I TRY to do in these situations and it’s what you could do if you want to.
- Take responsibility for your feelings – I’m mad that the dishes aren’t done, the house is a mess, and the kids are still up.
- Take a long, deep breath and say “I don’t know what’s happening, I just know what I see”. Now here’s a big mind blower….. ask “What’s going on (and try not to have tone). Just that simple. Just that hard.
Homework – For the next week, pay attention to how many times you get frustrated with people without knowing the whole story. Pay attention to how many times your feelings get hurt when you “think” you know what someone else is thinking, but you don’t verify. Pay attention to how many times you jump to conclusions without asking for clarification. Are you noticing a trend here? Pay attention. Ask questions. Get clarifications. Don’t assume.
Good luck with practicing step 2. That’s all this is. Practice. It’s a new way of living your life. You can practice these steps all day – every day. Life throws enough situations at us, we won’t be lacking in chances to try these out. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right. I rarely do. You aren’t supposed to always get it right. We can’t always get it right. We are humans. Just try your best. That’s all I do. I try. I mess up. And I try again.
If you have any questions or comments, just let me know! I look forward to talking to you.
I wish you much peace,