"Come back to yourself. Return to the voice of your body. Trust that much.” (Geneen Roth)

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Assume Your Position

April 28, 2010

A man gets on the subway with his children.  The man is aloof and his kids are holy terrors.  They run up and down the length of the car, bumping into passengers, shrieking, poking each other.  Everyone on the car is perturbed.  They wait for him to say something, to control his children.  The father doesn’t seem to care.  Finally, one passenger brusquely approaches the father, “Hey!  You need to watch those crazy kids of yours!  We don’t need to put up with your kids causing a bunch of trouble!” The father looks up as if he has just come out of a dream.  He looks around and hears his children for the first time as he feels the angry glare of every passenger on the car upon him.  He responds slowly, “I’m so sorry.  I guess I was kind of lost there.  You see, my wife just died this morning and the kids have been cooped up at the hospital for the last couple of days.  I guess we just aren’t sure yet how to deal with all of this.”

The mood shift is palpable.  Angry eyes now well up with tears and the passengers who were so quick to condemn the poor parenting of the man now reach out to help him.

What if it was our habit to assume the best when confronted with a situation where we don’t have all the pieces to understanding?  This paraphrasing of a story told by Stephen Covey in his beautiful book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, illustrates the importance of “seeking first to understand.”  The truth is we don’t always have the opportunity to fully understand, to fit all the pieces together, to know the back-story. 

Our actions, our stress levels, our suffering change for the better when we assume the best.

Wishing you room to breathe, a.

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