I was driving a different route to a meeting and found myself in a long line of traffic trying to merge onto a busy roadway. The cars were very slowly moving into the lane of traffic, and it was taking a great deal longer than I had anticipated for my drive. I normally go another route to this area of the city, and would have been in the line of cars letting others in, not waiting to get in – if I had gone my normal route.
It hit me as I was sitting there: “Sometimes that’s me in that line of cars.” And I was thinking about how infrequently I stop to let the other cars come off the ramp and merge in when I am driving on that particular road. I realized that sometimes I am just thinking, “Will I be late?” and as such I don’t show the drivers waiting to come in the common courtesy I should.
As I continued to sit there having this epiphany about how I am often on the other side of the roadway, I started to think about how the phrase “sometimes that’s me” applies to so many other areas of life.
I began to think about times I say something to someone, but sometimes that’s me… When I tell my daughter she needs to be more respectful towards me. Am I being as respectful as possible toward her all of the time, or sometimes is that me that needs to be reminded?
When I tell my husband he needs to listen to what I am saying. Am I always a focused and attentive listener, or do I sometimes give him short shrift because I am focused on something else while he is talking to me?
When I suggest that someone let go of worry or concern about their future and just take the steps they are able to take in the moment. Am I letting go whenever I can so that I am not burdened by things I can’t control, or am I sometimes the worrier, too?
When I mentally criticize a choice someone has made, has there ever been a time when I have made similar choices for my own reasons?
When I am too busy to respond to a friend in need, have there been times when I was the person in need and desperately wanted someone to take the time to respond to me?
When I have been fed up with a customer service person, or a company that isn’t serving me well, and I don’t control my upset or approach, has there been a time where I haven’t served my clients to their highest expectations and I really don’t want them to be frustrated with me?
I, like all of us, have times where I don’t make the best choices in my dealing with others. Do I realize at these times that the excuses I may use – “too busy,” “righteous anger,” “too distracted,” etc. – to justify my behavior toward the other person allow me to ignore the fact that in many cases, I AM the other person? Sometimes it’s me on the other side of the equation.
This week, watch where you get triggered and want to excuse your bad behavior as a result. Try to remember if there was a time where you were just like the person, or circumstance, you are railing against. This is where we can find compassion – when we realize we aren’t so different from others in many ways.