The longer I do this thing called life, the more I see how just a little shift in perspective can save me a pound of pain. Case in point: assuming positive intent. Am I the only one who has a seemingly reflexive tendency to assume the worst about other people’s feelings toward me? I can butt heads with someone—even a close friend—and if I’m not careful, I’ll walk away with a whole string of errant thoughts captivating my mind:
She’s mad at me.
She’s against me.
She hates me.
She thinks I’m wrong.
She thinks I’m crazy.
She’s out to get me.
She’ll never forgive me.
Things will never work out for us.
It is a terrible, maddening cycle, and yet I willingly sign up for it, time and time again. Fortunately, there is an easy way out.
No matter how sticky the situation or how high the stakes seem to be, you and I are always only one conversation away from setting relational wrongs right.
Instead of sitting and stewing, murmuring and gossiping, doubting and blaming and all the rest, we can be women who fight for:
Let me show you what I mean. Just last month, I was absentmindedly scrolling through my Instagram feed, when I noticed that a friend of mine had posted a picture from a baby shower the previous day. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it was the baby shower of another of my friends. This was a baby shower I myself had not attended, because it was a baby shower I had not been invited to.
Did I mention this shower was for one of my friends?
I scrolled further and found pictures from still another friend who had also been at that shower, and then posts from the pregnant friend as well, relishing in all the sisterly love she’d received.
I’m not going to lie: it hurt. Had I been traveling and somehow missed the invitation? Was this just a mix-up that centered on mail? I was tempted to pout. And then to rage. And then to passive-aggressively reach out to that pregnant friend: “Hey! Long time, no talk. What have you been up to? Specifically, what did you do yesterday?”
Thankfully, I did none of those things. Instead, I picked up my phone and crafted a text to my friend, a smart, savvy woman who would never intentionally harm me. “I saw pictures from your shower, and you look amazing,” I wrote. “I want you to know that if I had known about the gathering, I would have dropped everything to be there and celebrate you. You matter to me, and I love you! I hope you’re feeling rested and strong.”
Within a few minutes, a response surfaced. “You are a true friend. I only invited a handful of people … it’s my second child, so it felt weird to make it a big thing. But your support means the world to me. Free for lunch next week?”
I exhaled upon reading her words. I would later learn that she had only invited eight people, and while I really would have loved to have been there in support of her, I totally got why I hadn’t been included. I wasn’t in her “top eight,” and you know what? She’s not in my closest friendship circle either. It made sense that I wasn’t invited, even as the exclusion initially stung. But do you see how the situation could have grown extraterrestrial horns and tails and wings and spikes and started breathing fire like a dragon in heat? The most innocent misunderstandings can get away from us somehow, and yet the solution is typically a simple one: Assume generously, and then act fast. Don’t sit. Don’t stew. Don’t sulk.
As our Noonday Ambassador manifesto triumphantly declares, “We assume the best in each other.” May you and I live up to those words every day.