“Great thoughts and a pure heart, that is what we should ask from God.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When we move past assumptions and go deeper by asking, we will discover a new world. We are surprised when we learn something new about a person we thought we knew, usually based on our first impression or gossip. Our assumptions and judgments hold us back from asking. Like a rock thrown across the water, we skip barely touching the surface, missing out on the deep waters of connection.
She never talks so she must be stuck up. Really she’s an introvert and just needs to be drawn out. He’s in a bad mood. Really he’s just found out his wife is leaving him. There are a lot of undercurrents in people’s lives that impact their behavior and they are more complicated than our assumptions allow. When we move outside of ourselves, we can see our world in a different light. “They” becomes “us.”
We leave a lot of unopened gifts under the tree. And we miss out on the flavor of all different people with one desire in common – to be seen for who they really are.
Assume the best. Ask and listen.
I was going to write a post about this sometime in the future, but you beat me to it 😉 Although a touch topic (much like politics and religion), I had a co-worker approach me and show me a picture of a birthday present from her husband on her smartphone. It was a semi-automatic rifle. My defenses went up immediately due to my opinion on issues concerning gun control. I almost ended the conversation there and would have pushed the memory to the back of my subconscious mind.
However, I decided to “ask” why this gift was so important to her, why she was giddy with joy. I expected a different response than I received. I learned that this was the same firearm that she used as a part of her military training many years ago. More than anything, this gift was an emotional tie to a period of her life that was very special for her.
Had I decided not to ask, I would have been missing out on an important discovery about the world around me and a person that I share a good part of my working day with. Your words ring so true and I am happy that you bring them to light. Always question our beliefs and ask questions. We will certainly be surprised at what we learn 😉
Wow! What an awesome story – thanks for sharing and asking!
Beautiful post. I try to look beyond the person’s mask and into their heart. I grew up in an alcoholic, abusive home. As a result, in high school I was shy and didn’t say much except to my close friends and I drove a nice car (money was love in our home). 20+ years later, I ran into an old school mate and after chatting for a bit, he said, “Wow. You’re not stuck up at all. You’re really a nice person–because you drove that new car to school and never said anything, I always thought you were terribly stuck-up.” It shocked me at the time. I had no clue people perceived me that way…I always just felt like an outsider. Recently, I went to a conference. One woman sitting at my table refused to make eye contact with me, her nose in the air as she turned around to examine the room, purposely avoiding my attempt to make contact. Stuck up? Maybe. Maybe not. In pain? Obviously. My heart knew her heart despite our lack of speaking or eye contact. 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing! When we realize that we all have stories, we realize our humanity and increase our capacity for empathy and compassion.
So true. I have hope we are starting to do more of this ♡
Me too. Many pleasant surprises.