I was minding my own business today when at around 4 pm, I received a link to a TED talk that was sent to me by a good friend Shiplu, who is from Bangladesh. Now, at first glance, I looked at the title and it said: “Why we get mad and why it’s healthy”. My initial reaction was, “I am so angry that my good friend Shiplu would think that I get angry!” Then after I watched the video, I was so inspired to write about this topic, that I dropped everything (including making dinner) in order to get my thoughts down before the fear of them passed through me, like bad sushi during an important meeting. The video was inspiring, but not as inspiring as Shiplu.
You see, my mind and my eyes went directly to the “why would Shiplu send this to me”, instead of allowing myself to read through the rest of his message which went onto say, “Watch the video, then u can write a blog post about the anger in ur own words.” He was actually helping me by, providing me with content to write about, and yet, I jumped at the fact that he was “trying to tell me something”; In essence, I was predicting my outcome based on his words used. I got angry initially at the thought that Shiplu would think I get angry, and then after reading the rest of the message, that emotion turned to embarrassment and apologetic. Not only to Shiplu but to myself.
You see, in today’s day and age, everything is so fast! Everyone needs an answer fast. A text has to be fast, otherwise you are a bad person. The same with phone calls, emails etc. You catch the drift. But what would life be like if we slowed down for a second, and read the whole message, and realized that we didn’t need to jump to conclusions or predict what someone is telling us through their actions or words?
I have been guilty of jumping to conclusions all my life based on predictions. I would get myself angry, and upset, for things that I had no business predicting. I almost convinced myself that I was a mind reader. Almost. However, I know I am not the only one, because, I have been on the receiving end as well. I would have people who would stop talking to me because they were insulted, or upset and angry because of my actions or ‘tone’ in voice. This isn’t fair is it? But, we do this to ourselves all the time. This is one of the main reasons we stay in these lapses of fight or flight mode. We don’t allow the information to absorb. We are so busy thinking about our response to the other person, that we miss half of what they are trying to tell us or show us.
Now the goal is to slow down and absorb the information and react accordingly. However, even in these instances we can still make mistakes on our predictions of what the other person is feeling, or going through while they communicate with us.
I don’t have all the answers, nor could I even advise you as to what to do in order to prevent this from happening, but what I can tell you is, that my experience with my friend Shiplu put things into perspective for me.
If Shiplu doesn’t answer my texts on Skype, I assume that he is mad at me. Why in God’s name would I think that? Well, apparently science tells us that we make these predictions about others based on our own history growing up. I knew that when my parents didn’t call me back, they were upset with me about something. This was a fact. However, I went onto believe that every encounter such as this, someone was angry at me, and it made me sick to my stomach.
So the question is, what do I do with this knowledge? The only thing that I can really do is, hopefully make you, the reader, feel better about the fact that it isn’t only you that feels this way. I do this a lot! Probably way too many times more than I should be doing it. The other thing that I can do is learn from this is, to be more conscious about how I react when it comes to my emotions. As I look back now, I can totally understand why so many of my relationships failed. It’s no wonder, I was always angry or disappointed!! It was because my predictions of what the other person was trying to communicate with me on was WRONG!
So tomorrow morning, when I wake up, I am going to take a deep breath in and focus on the fact that it will be a good day, full of happiness, love and fulfillment. Instead of the typical mornings, when I wake up, and dread the day because of problems, money, emails, work, traffic, and the list goes on. Perhaps, maybe, just maybe, my life will change. For the better!
**Dedicated to my friend Shiplu from Bangladesh*