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Other People's Behavior Isn't Always About Us

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Most of the time, someone’s attitude has nothing to do with you.

Read that again.

Their hateful comment, their grumpy mood, their rude reaction...more often than not, that’s all about them.

But it feels so personal when it’s directed at you, I know.

Tonight, I was my daughter’s punching bag - literally and figuratively.

She unloaded on me. Nothing I did, including the exact thing she demanded, was right.

I could feel the frustration threatening to take over. My shoulders were tense; my jaw clenched.

I fought the urge to snap back with an equally sassy remark.

As I turned to walk away so we could both reset, I caught a glimpse of her. The girl I know, not the emotion suddenly spilling over the surface and engulfing everything in its path.

My girl.


And suddenly, what I saw was not anger and defiance, but a little girl with a hurting heart.

I turned back, climbed right into that toddler bed and snuggled her close. We both softened. Her tears gave way to calm and she whispered, “Don’t leave me” as we held tight to each other in that too-small bed.

We spent a few more minutes lying hand-in-hand in the quiet, until she announced, “I’m not grumpy anymore!”

And it got me thinking.

What if instead of responding to people’s unkindness with frustration, we tried to see their hurting hearts, too?

What if we looked beyond the surface and tried to see what might be going on underneath?

What if we reached out a hand or offered a hug or asked if they were OK instead of taking every offense personally?

I think we might get the same result that I found in that toddler bed tonight.

Other people’s behavior isn’t usually about us.

And if we can remember that and respond accordingly, I think we’ll find that our outlook and our interactions will start to look a lot different, too.

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