Perspective Is #1: A Painful Lesson
Perspective, folks. That’s what it’s all about. Without it, all hell breaks loose.
Regular Threads Podcast: Life Unfiltered listeners are familiar with a show segment called “Flubs and Victories.” Ben and Jason share moments where they fell short of being the people they want to be (flubs), as well as things that went over particularly well (victories).
My flub was that I let a meme in a group text bother me to the point I responded abrasively, pissing off the entire group in the process. This flub eventually led to my victory, but I’ll get to that in due time. First, you may be wondering…
What does this have to do with Perspective?
Everything. Here’s the story WITHOUT anyone’s perspective:
I get a politically-themed coronavirus meme in a group text. It was obviously supposed to be funny, but it didn’t tickle me. It upset me. So I replied:
Then the sender got upset at which point I said:
sorry, I’ll laugh if/when my sister’s family recovers
Did they know about the situation beforehand, you ask?
Nope! I’m one of those suffer-in-silence types, for whatever reason. When someone I know gets hurt or sick or put in a difficult position and there’s nothing I can do about it, I just stew in solitude.
Maybe I should see a therapist…
It didn’t have to be that way; we weren’t seeing the other person’s perspective.
My Perspective coming in:
My sister and her family are on the west coast, they have unconfirmed (because of a lack of testing–don’t get me started) cases of coronavirus. They aren’t in the hospital, but they aren’t asymptomatic either. And–probably the worst part–there’s nothing to be done except sit, wait, and hope.
That’s not something I do well.
The sender’s perspective coming in:
He just ventured off and started his own business a few months ago, and can’t work during the stay at home order. He’s worried about his business, as well as his ability to support his family. Trying to bring a positive attitude towards something that was seriously depressing him, he sent a meme out that he found particularly funny.
Then I happened.
How did it play out?
As you can imagine, no one likes the sucky feeling of getting called out publicly for something that wasn’t even remotely on their radar. So how did it play out? Not well. People took sides, started separate group texts with only select members of the original. Insults. Name calling. Vowing to become lifelong enemies who will teach our children to hate the other’s children and so on, until spouses had to intervene.
You know, normal grown-up behavior.
Where was the victory then?
I guess the first victory is that we each married awesome people who navigate us through our emotional storms. More specifically, the victory was in opening up to each other after we had calmed down. We saw one another, maybe for the first time, for more than the opinions we express and how we carry ourselves in front of others. Long story short, we both said sorry, I love you, and had a very bro-ish reconciling, during which we saw a few important things: our own faults, the other person’s perspective, and a clear way to move forward with a stronger relationship than before.
What can we learn from this?
When someone is in physical pain, you can tell. Physical pain sucks, and I’m not trying to downplay it. But emotional pain is a tricky SOB, often going completely unnoticed, even in people you see regularly. Emotional pain doesn’t make us limp, or leave a visible scar. There aren’t bandages, wraps, casts, or slings that make emotional pain obvious. Unfortunately, emotional pain has a tendency to show itself in ways like my aforementioned anecdote–by unexpectedly turning us into people we don’t want to be.
So bear in mind, now more than probably ever before (at least in my lifetime), that when interacting with anyone, take into account that they may very well be hurting. For different reasons, in different ways, different depths, sure. Whatever. The big takeaway is that we’re all under more pressure right now.
Let’s take a page from the Threads playbook and be open about how we feel. Don’t suffer in silence. Try to use it as something, as weird as it sounds, that brings us together. This isn’t a Hey, guys…it’s not so bad kind of post, nor is it a Buck up, everybody thing. Just a reminder that it’s not just you, and in light of that, let’s be honest, open, and support one another.
If you need mental health help, but you’re stuck at home, visit show sponsor BetterHelp.com with this link and get 10% off the first month!
And, as you should always do, listen to some of the recent episodes from the show for honest, transparent discussions on stuff like this. Then you can check out our other blog posts, like 10 Cool Things to Do While Sheltering in Place, or Charles Barkley And His Trophies: An Awesome Take on Materialism, or Mental Health (Or a Lack Thereof) in the Workplace, or Mindfulness: Powerful Self-Care for Your Mental Health, or…well, you get it.
Love you guys. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Christopher Tallon is a writer, podcaster (different show), and yellow legal pad enthusiast, currently living in west Michigan. Quickly, go and find him on FaceBook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or his Website!