Behind the annoying person is a whole life...

Behind the annoying person is a whole life...

Over recent months, I've noticed how my son quickly goes into blame and frustration when his best friend does not respond to a message, a whole story can emerge about how his friend hates him or how they will never talk again. I am sure we have all done something similar, we send a message to a friend, expecting a response and when it does not come, we fall into blame and hurt.

And I notice how I am now learning to wonder…

…learning to be curious now about what might be happening in the other person that means they don't reply. I say I am learning, but it's also a long standing thing I just do - you could call it "taking the other side" or "defending others". I seem to always try and see the other persons perspective. Being honest, this attitude, when combined with a strong tendency to avoid conflict can be tricky. It muddies the waters when it comes to speaking my mind and having clear boundaries. Yet, I now see something more profound going on. I am valuing this feature of mine - one of seeing that there is a whole life behind a persons actions.

This blame thing happening a lot at the moment, from people getting angry with others whom are not so strictly adhering to social distancing to the media demonising politicians, and bleeds right through to the harsh and painful polarisations in society (the good people vs the terrorists, right vs left, leave vs remain) Sometimes it seems like everyone is shouting and no one is doing any listening and no one feels listened to! Labels and blame. And it pains me.

There is little or no space for the others story. For what might be happening in someones life that means that behave in a certain way. And by story I don't mean the surface presentation, I mean the whole world of feelings and values, the history and pain we each carry. As someone said on a tv show, "Most people when they are being annoying, are just having a bad day" It's everyday wisdom but it's wisdom nonetheless. We may never know the story and only ever see the surface of someone. We see their acting out or their blaming but what might it be like to consider the life behind their actions. Maybe they are in physical pain, or have just lost someone, or a carrying trauma from long ago. Maybe they are a scared and shaky and vulnerable as you are, and maybe they are just as scared to show it.

One of my favourite sayings from Eugene Gendlin was "Remember there is always someone in there" Easy to forget and beautiful to remember.
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