I watched a YouTube video earlier today about a guy who was riding his bicycle and got called a name by a guy in a passing truck. He talked about how he immediately wondered what he was doing wrong that caused this. Did he act wrong, was he dressed wrong? What was it he did wrong?
Have you ever had a similar experience? Someone says something unkind and you wonder what you did wrong to cause that reaction. I think that’s a fairly normal response. Put your hand on the stove and it’s going to get burned, cut a guy off in traffic and you might see with a few interesting gestures made in your direction, cause and effect right?
Back to the video, he wondered what he did wrong for a while before realizing: He didn’t do anything wrong. Whatever caused the guy in the truck to call him a name had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the guy in the truck.
We often forget that just as we see the world through our own experiences, everyone else sees the world through their own, different set of experiences. Someone calls you a name from their truck, and we automatically review ourselves at that moment to find out what we were doing wrong. We only have that brief interaction and our own actions to review, and we forget that the person in the truck, who’s being rude, is perhaps living their life by completely different rules and had a completely different day.
Or at work, we make a small mistake and find ourselves in the boss’s office being reprimanded for how we handled it. We don’t understand why this small mistake warrants such a severe response. Maybe we get upset or maybe we quickly brush it off. Either way, we forget that the boss is looking at it through a different set of experiences.
As you go through your day, remember that everyone is making the best decisions they can, based on what their experiences have taught them.
Unfortunately, some people’s experiences have taught them that when they are feeling bad, they feel better if they share that bad feeling with others and that it’s perfectly okay to do that (for the record, it’s not).
So, how do we handle it if we end up on the receiving end?
- Realize that it’s not really about you. It’s about the other person and brush it off.
- If you can’t brush it off, get help in whatever form you need it.
What do you do when you’re on the receiving end of someone’s bad day?