Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Am I an ass or are you?

Ever hear the expression, 'Never assume, it makes an ass out of you (u) and me'?

Ever wonder why each person ends up an ass?

The obvious answer is because one person assumes.  Let me say that again.  ONE person makes an assumption.

It seems it's a no-win situation.  If we both end up looking like an ass, why do we make assumptions?  Who wants to look like an ass?  Apparently lots of people, given how quick people are to share their opinions in the context of what is wrong with someone else's!

Few of us ever stop to think about the roots and repercussions of our assumptions.  Some of us are so quick to blurt out exactly why the other person's point of view is wrong or what we don't like about it, we forget to check our ego at the door and pay attention to the other person's intent and perspective.  Often it means we miss the opportunity presented to us to see things in a different light, to learn and to grow.  There are always two sides to every story.  It doesn't mean we have to agree with them.  It just means we need to respect what they are trying to convey, do or say.

In so many aspects of my life, choice is paramount to the outcome you experience.  Life is full of choices.  Hundreds of them every day.  Do I wear the blue shirt or the red one?  Do I have cereal or toast?  Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?  Perhaps it's deeper than that.  Do I tell that person they hurt me with their words?  Do I confront someone who is being deceitful?  Do I submit a knee-jerk response to a statement or action because it touched a nerve in me, or do I take some time to be with that reaction myself.  To examine it.  To determine why I had the reaction I did.  To think about my reaction and my response before sharing it.  Was it about them or was it about me?  Chances are high it was really about me.  They were just speaking what they believed to be right and true. Their intent was not to anger me or upset me, and even if it was, why?  Whose issue is it?  Really.  My reaction is about me and the fact I don't agree.  Theirs is about them and their beliefs.  Both of us could be genuine and stand proud in our conviction.  We could both be right, because all that matters is what's right to us.  There is something to be said for counting to 10 before reacting, though.  Interesting, isn't it?

It's really difficult to make a good and truly informed choice if we do not know all the options, benefits, risks and alternatives.  This is true of anything, anywhere.  Every action has a consequence, be it good, bad, or indifferent.

As an example, I write and teach a lot about topics pertaining to safety.  I get many comments and expressions of gratitude for educating people about potential risks and dangers so they can make the choice to protect their children and families.  I give them information they previously did not have.  Is that true of everyone?  No, of course not.  Some people did already know some or even all of that information.  I'm thrilled when that's the case!  My target audience is the people who don't know.  I know I can't control what people think and do.  All I can do is provide information and perspective.

There are always a few people who accuse me of fear mongering.  Of being over the top.  Who take things out of context.  Who accuse me of being paranoid or worse.  They prefer to think they already know everything there is to know (maybe they do) or 'it' won't happen to them.  I used to get really upset by those things, because my intent is pure and truly about saving lives.  I lost a child to something that could have been prevented.  If I had known of the dangers, I would have taken action to prevent the accident that killed her.  I assume others would want the same.  I'm an ass, because not everyone does.

You know what?  I'm OK with that.  Why?  Because I know what my purpose and mission in this lifetime is and part of it involves teaching people how to keep their kids safe.  If I push your or their buttons, good!  They are your buttons, not mine!  If they need to turn it back around to be about me, so be it.  I don't wish them ill will.  I feel sad and sorry that they missed the point, but I know it's out of my control.  It doesn't change what I think, say, write or do.  It doesn't change who I am and why I am who I am.  It doesn't deter me from my mission.  Am I mindful that some people may react negatively to something meant to be full of love and goodness?  Sure.  We are all entitled to our feelings, actions and choices.  Owning them, that's the challenge sometimes.

I think perhaps the lesson here is that nothing happens in isolation.  Every choice impacts someone else, somewhere, in some way.  If we are more cognizant of our choices and think before we speak and act, perhaps we'd all be wiser for it.

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