Wednesday, June 18, 2008

assume good intention

Sometimes, (too often), when I'm asked a question I find myself assuming the asker's intent and also assuming they are judging my harshly. In turn, I become defensive in my answer and attitude -- which only leads to more negative energy.

I have been making a concerted effort lately to assume that everyone has good intentions and are only curious. Too bad it's taken me 40 years to figure this out, but it has made such a difference in my interactions with people lately. It really struck me during conversations recently about homeschooling -- in the past I would assume I was being harshly judged, but I decided to consciously let that go (with much effort, I might add!) It has allowed me to listen to questions, and answer them with openness and genuine excitement (when warranted.) So, even if someone may have had a negative intention in asking, my honest answer helps bring about a change in their attitude as well. And, even if it doesn't bring about a change in their thoughts/attitude, I feel better about the entire interaction and it makes my life a bit easier.

This may seem like a simple thing for most of you, but it has really helped improve my outlook lately. Too often I would try to read "into" the comments and questions of others instead of just taking them at face value. I decided that even if they turned around and talked nastily about me and my decisions, what difference did that make to ME? Better that I respond cheerfully and positively and let them be the "Negative Nelly!"

A dear friend has a friend who constantly reports back to her about the things people say. It has driven me crazy for years -- because it's not the positive things she reports back with -- it's the gossipy, mean, obnoxious things that people say behind people's backs. And, sometimes I think she embellishes to make herself look better in front of my friend. My friend thrives on knowing what others think, so their relationship works for them -- but I often wonder WHY she wants to know? Does it improve her life? Does it help her become a better person? NOPE! It usually hurts her feelings, and makes her have negative feelings towards others. I'm not talking about serious things, either -- I'm talking about things like "Oh, did you know she buys all her food from Costco and doesn't make anything from scratch?" or "Gosh, do you think she could have chosen a better color for the living room?" I would rather just assume the people invited to my home have good intentions and like us. I really don't care about the catty things they may say.

I could spend time thinking about WHY I had such a hard time assuming good intentions in others, but you know what? Who cares? The fact that I've recognized it and am trying to change is all that really matters. As an adult, I'm responsible for my choices, and it's up to me to make the best ones I can.

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