Ever had someone cut you off on the road or honk at you and it really irritated you? Ever find yourself cursing someone out and flipping them off in the car because they did something stupid? Maybe you’ve let someone else’s loud, obnoxious opinion make you feel less than and make you angry. I mean, seriously, who among us hasn’t? I’m not saying you have to be the bigger person but we never know what someone else is going through. But we can choose to live with gratitude and forgiveness and we can learn kindness.
The thing is you end up upset and they don’t give a shit. Honestly, they have no idea and no concern about how their actions affected you. You have just given someone who probably doesn’t matter in the least in your life, power over your happiness. Now, if you saw your friend do the same exact thing, you would stop them and talk them out of it but it’s not so easy when we’re caught up in the moment ourselves. Be gentle and kind to yourself. It’s hard to step back and just take it in before reacting.
Stop, breathe, forgive and be kind
I’m not judging. I’ve gotten angry, been judgemental and reacted poorly and/or aggressively many times throughout my life. In fact, I’m kind of notorious for it in my family and I’m a little embarrassed by my quick temper. I’ve always had this sense of justice that demands that I let people know that they’ve wronged me. Maybe it’s naiveté or maybe I just have to have the last word, I’m not sure anymore but, with age comes wisdom (or so I’d like to think) and my perspective has altered since having kids and again, more recently, once I started to forgive myself. It is now infinitely easier to forgive others.
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For years, I have been giving people’s bad behavior the benefit of the doubt. I gave birth and then suddenly, I shifted from “must chase this person who cut me off and almost killed me” to “maybe they have diarrhea”, “Maybe they’re on their way to the hospital”, “maybe they’re late for their wedding.” You can call it making excuses for people, and maybe I am, but I feel like it’s looking for the good in people. I don’t want to believe that all people are jerks. I think, mostly, people are good. Well, except for the racists, misogynists, bigots and homophobes, they need God. But other than that, I think most people want to make good choices.
You can choose to live with gratitude and kindness
You guys, my readers, my followers, my friends, you have made me a better person. Many times you have soothed my hurting heart, shared in my celebrations, loved my children, encouraged and supported our family on our journey from the beginning. You’ve been with me every step of the way on my health journey, my pregnancy loss and all the ups and downs that life has thrown my way over the past decade. I see you. I appreciate you and you’ve renewed my faith in humankind. You’ve opened my eyes and shown me alternate perspectives. You’ve given me hope when I thought there was none. Thank you. And yesterday, you held me in your optimism one more time.
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Yesterday, many of you commented on a post that I had on social media about how I’ve worked really hard to reverse a terrifying diagnosis. I didn’t share it to brag. I shared it to let others know that there is hope. There is a way and if I can do it, so can you. I was proud of the work and the results. You did not fail to once again lift me up. I felt it. The support and encouragement were humbling but you wrapped me in it like a warm, cozy blanket and lifted my heart to a place of impenetrable gratitude. That’s a beautiful place to be in the world.
After a walk where I nearly wept at the beauty all around me (I told you it was a day of gratitude), I could feel life’s blessings falling all around me. I literally walked counting blessings and praying for everyone I know. I like to pray using people’s names. I want blessings for everyone. Anyways, after my walk and a day of exhaling after months of holding my breath, I drove to pick Bella up from school for a doctor’s appointment. A typical day in the neighborhood over here.
Consideration and respect is a small kindness that we can all offer
I was in a great mood. I had a hilarious texting mishap with my sister-in-law and we were both laughing. I was whole body laughing. Serotonin was everywhere. It was glorious. There I was in the pick-up line at school, singing my heart out to The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles (you know from that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold is sitting up in the attic watching old home videos? Yep, gets me in the feels every damn time) when suddenly but what at my door did appear? A very angry woman.
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A mom behind me in the pick-up line had, literally, jumped out of her car, ran up to my window and proceeded to beat on my car window while I was lowering it to see what she wanted. She looked so angry. I met her irrationality with calm. She was yelling and her hands were flying around (I’m not talking shit, I am a proud Mexican hand talker), she was clearly angry but I couldn’t understand what I did to warrant such a reaction.
As she screamed at me that I needed to move because I was “holding up the entire pick-up line” (clearly she doesn’t understand how the front of the pick-up line works. We were all waiting), she screamed, “Do you understand that you are holding up the line?” Then I was completely confused because in pick-up line (especially at the beginning when school is letting out) everyone is holding up the line at one point or another. I could see that whatever was really bothering her clearly went way beyond me and where I was parked. So, I calmly (completely out of character for me) said, “I’m also waiting to pick up my daughter who has a doctor’s appointment now. She’s coming out in a few seconds.”
Choosing kindness is not always easy
She continued to scream that I was blocking her and I began to worry that maybe she had a bleeding body in the back of her SUV that needed to get to the ER. She was so urgent. Her arms were flailing and her face was red and I saw that this woman needed the win of me moving more than I needed to rationalize any of this or win the argument. I quietly and calmly let her finish her say and I said, “OK, I’ll move.” She responded with annoyance. I think she wanted me to be as upset as her but I just wasn’t. I wouldn’t allow myself to be. Then I chuckled because another text from my sister-in-law popped up and I thought this poor woman’s head was going to explode. I wished her a blessed day. I meant it.
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No joke, I prayed for her. I hope her day got better. I don’t know what was going on in her life yesterday but it must have been massive. It must have felt overwhelming and for that I’m sorry for her. I wish I could make it all better.
I moved my car. I ended up at the front of the line. Everybody saw what had just transpired, no one gave me any issues for pulling right up to the front door as my daughter walked out. Bella got in the car, I gave her a smile and a kiss hello and we went on our way to the doctor. Meanwhile, that same very angry woman was still waiting for her daughter, behind someone else. I didn’t see anything on the news about her yanking anyone from their car and beating them, so I’m assuming everything turned out ok.
We don’t always know what others are going through
I’m telling you this not to make fun of this woman or to marginalize her suffering, whatever it may be, but to remind you to not give others space in your heart, mind and soul. Like most people these days, I have a lot on my plate and I simply don’t have that much space to give. In fact, I’m trying to do a deep purge of my life to eliminate negative things and people who are taking up too much space already. I’m all for saving space in my life for loved ones but life’s too short to let strangers or even toxic friends and family take up valuable space in my heart with negativity and hurt.
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All this to say, especially as a reminder this holiday season, we cannot choose how people behave and we do not know the circumstance in which others are existing (life can be hard for so many reasons) but we can control how we move through the world and how we react to other people’s actions. Be kind to everyone. It’s free and requires minimum effort. A random smile or a kind gesture can go a long way to quell someone having a bad day but also, it’s not your responsibility to worry about the entire world. Be patient and tolerant but be mindful and forgiving of others and yourself. If none of that works, walk away. You’ve done your best.
Most importantly, be joyful and grateful in all that you do and your heart will be full and your load will be lighter.
Thank you for reminding me of the power of people with your interactions and remember, you never know what someone else is going through. It could be the worst day of their life. So next time someone flips you off, cuts you off or mumbles something mean under their breath, just smile and move along because you can’t change their bad behavior (you have no control, you are not the boss of them) but maybe your kindness can knock them off guard just enough to snap them out of whatever is worrying, scaring or angering them. Go forward and be blessed.