Mindful Living Wednesday Wisdom

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt

As humans, we are adept at jumping to conclusions. Nope, not the best exercise! Instead, what if we gave others the benefit of the doubt?

The newspapers were piling up. I had to call the recycling guy to pick up the plastics and other material. So, after collecting everything in the middle of the living room—of course segregated and neatly packed in brown paper bags, I phoned him. He promised to come by in the afternoon.

He didn’t though. I called again. And again. Said he’d come the next day. Which was okay, really.  But he didn’t. Not for the next ten days.

There was the pile of stuff in the living room. Only, I had moved it to a spot where it wasn’t visible from the front door. Every time I’d look at it I’d feel a little more irritated.

I didn’t stop calling him though. He would just cut my call—not even answer.

Then I gave it a break.

I tried calling other recyclers. They’d give me a time but never turned up.

Finally on day 10, I thought let me call my fella one last time. I got him on the line. I asked him if he planned to come over—and why he had been cutting my calls.

He then apologized and said that his whole family had been sick. He has two toddlers. They were down with fever too. He promised to come over in the afternoon.

Now, I felt bad about being irritated. I had assumed he was taking me lightly.

I know this is something that happens to all of us.

Weird-sad-not so funny how our thoughts can manage to turn a perfectly mild situation and blow it out of proportion. Our mind takes on a life of its own and transports us to a point that is not really unjustified, to be fair, but rather silly.

For instance, when a friend doesn’t show up for a meeting and leaves us waiting, we go on to cook up all kinds of negative reasons for why it happened, and we end up feeling stressed, furious and quite depressed. We assume that the person does not care. The truth might actually be very different. Maybe the friend got unavoidably held up somewhere and couldn’t even call. Maybe their car broke down in the middle of nowhere. Maybe they fell sick.

I keep telling myself to wait until I have all the facts before I react.

We could wait to reserve judgment, right?

When we wait to know more, we stop ourselves from thinking kinds of imaginary thoughts that make us miserable.

Why get mad at someone when we have no idea about what happened?

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt

There’s a little story that illustrates giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

A man cuts off another man for a parking space. The second man is furious. Later he meets him in a store and is all set to tell him off, when he finds out that the man’s dog has just died and, in his grief, he doesn’t even remember parking. And all this time the angry man had been raging with negative thoughts in his head—thoughts that were utterly useless—thoughts that had kept him from enjoying happy moments with his son.

Isn’t it crazy to allow our thoughts to take over our lives? We need to stay balanced and control our thoughts from straying all over the place. Why let them drag us down roads that we don’t want to take? Why not redirect them, replace them with happier thoughts and distract ourselves from the unsavory stuff until we know more about situations? Won’t it help us let go of the hurt and anger and carry on with our lives feeling positive?

Why not give others the benefit of the doubt?

Something to think about:

  • Do you find your thoughts taking over your mind often?
  • What if we kept our thoughts positive even when faced with negative stuff?
  • Why be a slave to our thoughts instead being their master?

Do you think people deserve the benefit of the doubt?

“Give people the benefit of the doubt, over and over again, and do the same for yourself. Believe that you’re trying and that they’re trying. See the good in others, so it brings out the best in you.”
Liz Newman

Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of stories, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor.

8 Comments

  • Reply
    nur arrian
    September 26, 2019 at 4:02 pm

    i really love your every post story, i found your blog by accident last year and ever since that day i been reading and following you silently. continue posting

  • Reply
    Galen Pearl
    September 27, 2019 at 8:34 am

    One time I reached out to someone with a gift and a deep, heartfelt thank you for something she had done for me that made a big difference in my life. I waited and didn’t hear anything back. Then I saw her in the neighborhood and she said she had been meaning to get in touch and she would. But she didn’t. By then I had made up all kinds of stories about her reasons, and she did not come off very well in any of them. Over a year later, she reached out and explained about how at the time she was way overwhelmed by circumstances in her life and had dropped the ball on many fronts. She apologized. I thought about how much energy and emotional capital I had spent on all the stories, none of which were true.
    Galen Pearl recently posted…Deflecting Conflict

    • Reply
      Vidya Sury
      September 27, 2019 at 10:35 am

      So right, Galen! We do it all the time, sometimes without thinking. My mom would always say give people the benefit of the doubt, but thanks to the baggage we carry, it just seens natural to assume the worst. Hugs! I’m always happy to see you 🥰

  • Reply
    Diane
    September 28, 2019 at 3:19 am

    I find myself judging people at work, and have to stop myself because I don’t know what is going on in their personal life. They could be facing all kinds of stressors that I couldn’t even imagine. In this day and age, we all are quick to judge and this is a good reminder to just let the little things go.
    Diane recently posted…GhostPillow – Faux Down by GhostBed Review

  • Reply
    Leana Lourens
    September 28, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Good morning Vidya. What you mentioned in this post is so very true. People will be people and we often jump to conclusions and that is not right. What I try to do is to always keep in mind that I shouldn’t handle someone else the way that I don’t want to be handles in return. And it works great that way🙂

  • Reply
    Felicia Austin
    September 28, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    I actually try and give people the benefit of the doubt most of the times. Except when someone takes my parking spot LOL now I do have to say I have gotten upset about that one but after reading your post I have to rethink that now.. My husband says I’m too gullible and people take advantage of me because I have a big heart. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but I do have to admit he’s right sometimes. I will give someone chance after chance because that’s just who I am but there’s only so many chances one person can get.

  • Reply
    Melissa
    September 28, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    I have made a conscious effort to do this now in my daily life, especially as it pertains to my students. Giving them the benefit of the doubt is so important in society.

  • Reply
    Vicki Patton
    September 29, 2019 at 9:10 am

    I do believe that people deserve the benefit of the doubt. This is something that I practice with my friends and people around me because I don’t want to be in a negative space. It is easier for me to let go of those thoughts and feelings than to make up stories on what I think happened. It took me a while to get to this point but its a lifesaver…stress kills.

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