I was standing with my friend Kalpana outside the office building. She had asked me to wait today so that I can meet her fiance. She was quite excited to meet him after a few days and was also equally excited to introduce him to me.
We had been waiting for 30 mins and I was running late. I was feeling bad for her. She was unable to reach him and we were unsure if we had to wait further or leave.
‘Kalpana must be really angry with him for not only making her wait, but also me. Poor thing..I hope she doesn’t feel embarrased about having made me wait.’
The other side
Kalpana turned towards me and said, ‘Poor thing..I don’t know where he is. He probably really got stuck somewhere.’
There was no trace of anger when she said that. Just worry.
Until I heard Kalpna say that, I had only considered how Kalpana might be angry or disappointed. Never for a moment did I think that the guy might have run into any issues which may have resulted in him not turning up at that moment.
Such a reaction from me isn’t really surprising. When somebody cancelled any meeting or was delayed, I had always taken it as either an insult or disregard towards me. I remembered the countless times I had fought with Hari, my husband for not coming back from office earlier. Even though I was a corporate employee myself I never considered it was possible that there was some unavoidable work emergency, that the train was either delayed or too crowded for him to board or countless other reasons that could have caused the delay.
I saw too many people at my work place who take multiple long coffee and lunch breaks through the whole day, and then work late to finish the assignment. And I immediately thought that must have been the case. So when he comes home from a long day of work and difficult clients, I assumed he came late because he didn’t want to be home with me and put up a fight.
Even for a moment assuming that my thought was true, the most productive thing to do in the circumstance would have been to create a friendly and a happy home, one would want to return soon to from work, not a place one hopes to see less off. My anger was creating more of the circumstance I wished to avoid.
Some more other sides
Where else can we use it ?
So may be,
The person who cut you on the road, was probably not being a jerk. He probably was just in a hurry.
The doctor probably did not purposefully delay you despite the appointment, may be had to handle an emergency.
Your son probably did not ignore your request, he probably just didn’t hear you.
Your grandmother didn’t probably love you less, she may have just that your sister might have needed that gift money more.
The person in the counter did not intend to cheat you, he was just equally bad at math.
Your best friend didn’t probably forget your birthday, she probably so worked up that she did not know what date or even month it was.
Your mom didn’t probably wanted to skip your vidaai to hurt you, she probably didn’t want to breakdown and make you feel even more sad.
Pause to think about the world from the eyes of the other person.
Always Assume that the other person had a positive intention. Its better to assume positive and be wrong, rather than assume negative and be wrong.
It is also possible that the guy on the road was indeed a jerk , your friend did indeed forget your birthday, but what point of view would make you happier.
So why don’t you empathise, be happy and show love until proven wrong. Keep your rose tinted glasses on, the world is probably not as bad. Even if it is, would you rather not be happy than be right ?
How to deal with the situation?
In some situations, like that of a rash driver, its best to ignore the impulse. In other cases like with your spouse, son or your boss, the situation may need to be discussed, but it possible to do it without you or the other person feeling guilt or hurt. Discuss and respond to the situation. Don’t react or over react.
Think of the last time you got angry with someone, pause to think what are you assuming that may not be true, change your filters and deal with the reality.
Here are a few suggested reads to practice thinking from the other side. We have always known the Ramayana or Mahabharatha from the victors point of view. Could their be another narrative? Here are some suggested fictional reads to develop that perspective.
Sita – the Warrior of Mithila – Amish Tripathi
Bhima, Lone Warrior – M.T. Vasudevan Nair
The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee (Mahabharatha from Draupadi’s point of view)
Karna’s wife, the Outcast Queen – Kavita Kane
Duruyodhana – Raghunathan V