I was talking to one of my girlfriends on a video app the other day and I casually told her my plans for the day. A few seconds later she messaged me asking me to elaborate on one piece of the convo because it made her sad. I was so confused as to why what I said would make her feel that way but I elaborated on my reasonings and asked why it affected her. She responded back with a face of shock as she explained to me her initial perception of my statement. My elaboration had cleared it up but her original perception was so far left from my intention that it left us both with confirmation of a valuable lesson that we all know. But one that we should often remind ourselves of….That things aren’t always what they seem. That our perceptions and feelings, though valid, aren’t always rooted in reality.
The reason why I was so shook by the exchange is because this is one of my close girlfriends and she knows me, yet she still left with something totally opposite of my intent. If we didn’t have the type of relationship where she felt comfortable asking for an elaboration of my statement, she would’ve walked away with her feelings hurt and I wouldn’t have had any idea! Who knows how that could’ve festered it’s way into our friendship. It made me wonder how many times we’ve destroyed relationships, thrown away friendships, ruined the potential of something great because we assumed the worst? Human nature tends to lean towards assuming the worst before the best. We tend to be more comfortable in assuming it’s all gonna go to hell, rather than actually hoping that it won’t, because this way we won’t be disappointed if it all falls apart. Or at least that’s what we convince ourselves of.
The problem with this method is that not giving situations and people the benefit of the doubt tends to create a loop of one self fulfilling prophecy after another in our lives. Once you prove yourself right once, it’s easier to prove yourself right again and the false belief system that you’re reinforcing is that much harder to break. So if its the belief that people can’t be trusted, everything is too good to be true, or that you aren’t worthy, you in essence reinforce your belief systems by not challenging yourself to believe something else. We create what we don’t want by not giving people and things the hope and grace they require to grow and thrive. This also applies to the grace and hope we give ourselves.
I was reading an old journal entry that I wrote to my future self in college and everytime I come across it, it speaks to me as if it’s the first time I’m reading it. I’m gonna place an excerpt below:
“ Don’t forget you’re a gift. Your presence is an asset. Even your imperfections add value. This is not something you should ever forget. This is not something you should ever attempt to convince anyone of. The only person you should be reminding of this is yourself.”
Whew child, I just got chills all over again. The part that says “even your imperfections add value” I feel that so deeply in my soul. We willfully diminish our own value far too often. Crucifying ourself and others over every perceived misstep. Reminding ourselves that we too deserve grace,hope, and the benefit of the doubt should be a daily action. It is impossible to give others the grace and freedom that we don’t even allow ourselves.
Times are hard right now. I’m a natural optimist but even I have had trouble rectifying so much the past few months. But while we’re all figuring things out the best way we can, let’s be mindful to give and offer grace to others and ourselves. Let’s challenge ourselves to hope even when it feels unattainable.
How will you radically hope today?