I am an optimistic person…until I’m not.
I have high standards about certain things in life. There are specific ways I like for things to be done. When someone doesn’t match my expectations it is incredibly easy for me to start to assume the worst.
Apparently I’m not alone in this.
Fundamental Attribution Error states – When someone else makes a mistake it is because of an internal flaw. At the same time when we make a mistake we blame external factors.
In other words, when others wrong you or mess up, you assume the worst. You assume they have a fundamental character flaw that caused them to do what they did.
But when you mess up it’s not because of a fundamental flaw. When you mess up it’s for a good reason.
When someone else is late you think, “They are so selfish. They always put themselves first.” When you are late you say, “Traffic was horrible.” Even though you left later than you should you quickly find a way to blame an external source.
So, we are wired to believe the worst about others.
Now, as most things in life practice enough and you will become better.
The problem is we don’t practice giving people the benefit of the doubt.
We practice assuming the worst.
It may start with the media or news stories. We are drawn to listen to the news that already supports our viewpoint. We then assume the worst about anyone who doesn’t agree with our politics or viewpoint.
What if every time you felt yourself assuming the worst about someone you didn’t know you chose to replace that thought with believing the best?
Now, this breaks down if you are standing in front of someone who wants to harm you. I get that. But most of the people that offend you are people you don’t know.
What if you practiced believing the best online, while watching the news, and while reading blog posts?
Then when the people you actually do know make a mistake you won’t jump to a wrong conclusion.
Maybe the person you love didn’t mean to offend you. Maybe the person you love didn’t mean to hurt you.
We have all carried around unintentional offenses.
Your perception is your reality, but it’s not always true.
The truth is there may be a good reason behind their actions.
When someone does hurt you it is up to you to bring your perception to them.
When you bring your perception it is crucial to use “I” statements and not “You” statements.
I felt unappreciated when I was waiting for you to show up. I waited 15 minutes and I didn’t get a call. I would feel appreciated if I got a call.”
From there you will get to hear the other person’s perspective. Maybe they forgot their phone or their phone battery died or maybe they were raised in a household that felt like showing up 15 minutes late was on time. Who knows.
But if you don’t give them a chance to share their perspective you’ll only hold onto a discontented perception.