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The daily grind

Nicole Dyer Griffith MA Thursday, April 20 2017

The number of times I have preached to my son the adage “you only have control over your response to situations, and not the situations or people’s actions, words or deeds” is beyond what I can recall. But how many times have I actually practiced what I preach? This is a work in progress. I have written before on my immediate ire raised when I excitedly announce, “good morning” and no one chooses to answer, or when I slow down for a pedestrian to cross the street and they saunter across without so much as a glance in my direction.

These scenarios can be repeated almost by habit and daily by so many of us. However, one day I decided to take my own advice and simply ‘flip the script’. I said to myself, “Self, suppose the guy hurriedly and dangerously overtaking you had to do this because he had a very sick child in his car?” or “what about the lady crossing the street not even realising she was crossing, as she was too busy thinking about the angry boss she had to face when she got into her workplace?”

My point is, that sometimes we just never know what is taking place in the hearts and minds of others and we simply lump everyone into the same basket of deplorables. If we were to stop and think for a moment, “What if the situation was not as simple as it seemed?” And in many instances, it isn’t. I found myself once on the receiving line of an attack, when I had an extremely stress-filled day, and was caught in the midst of trying to rush from one event to another, when someone said “hello” to me and my mind was as far away as possible. I did not mean to ignore the greeting, I just was not mentally present. And that simple interaction made the person extremely angry and lash out. It was only after their response that I was jolted back to realty, apologised that I had missed the greeting and moved on even more stressed than I was before.

This is to state that our current dynamic, locally, regionally and internationally is fuelled by time constraints, deadlines, issues seen and unseen and a number of parameters that may not fall into the realm of ideal, and we are all trying to find ways of coping and managing as best as we could. As such, it is always a good practice to be a bit more understanding of circumstances and the potential impact on the simple daily grind, because let’s face it, for the majority this is what it is – a daily grind. And the last thing needed to add to this grind is more distress.

I have started intentionally and deliberately practicing what I preach and I have noticed a marked decrease in my own stress levels. Thinking up scenarios to justify the impolite actions of others has even put a smile on my face ever so often. The point being, we just never know what others may be going through, and instead of laying blame and judgment, perhaps empathy and understanding may assist. The repealing and replacement of blame and judgment also add to your own personal management of potentially stress filled scenarios. Trust me, you will find yourself smiling, when you release the anger of a potentially abrasive situation, and replace it with being empathetic for a complete stranger. So if you don’t do it for them, try it for yourself.

This lesson I am retraining myself to adapt, also supports my adage to my son. As when a driver overtakes, he now says, “Ah mummy, I guess he is on his way to the hospital. I hope he arrives safely.” Empathy and understanding in motion, and less stress for us all.

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