I had an experience recently that gave me perspective that I'd like to share with you. It was a funny and gentle reminder that no matter how confident a person may be about another person's motives and thoughts, very often you can be wrong. Often, you have to remind yourself that all of your thoughts and opinions are being experienced and seen through your own personal lens - the personal lens that is full of bias from past experiences, your mood that day, your blood sugar level ...
Not long ago, I began parking in a much smaller spot when my husband moved into our temporary home while we consolidate our two lives together, to make room for his larger car in the larger parking spot. Next to my small white hatchback parks a big black SUV. My parking neighbor's car is bigger than mine and our two spots are pretty close together. And in order to fit two cars, you have to really be very mindful of how you park - leaving as much room as possible in between the two car spots for the other car to pull in and out of their spot.
My neighbor wasn't so good at leaving enough room for me - it'd take me many minutes each time I wanted to drive anywhere or come home to park and un-park. In my mind, I'd make up reasons for why my parking spot neighbor didn't leave me enough room for my car to get into my spot: thoughtless, careless, SELFISH, evil parking hogging monster, uncaring, mean, PUNK, ... probably a juvenile delinquent, ... AHHH!!!!!! I wanted to give my parking spot neighbor a piece of my mind. Poor me... woe is me!!! Turns out, one day I sat in my car for a few minutes after my daily struggle to park my car and suddenly I hear a "bonk" of the car door beside me dinging my car. OH NO YOU DIDN'T! Yes, I SPUN my head around to quickly see who had maliciously dinged my car! Yes... it was my most EVIL parking spot neighbor. We made eye contact then and there - boy was it awkward. I'm sure he was definitely surprised to see me sitting in my car at that very moment. I spun back around to unbuckle my seat belt, put on my shoes and get out of the car. I got out of the car after slowly squeezing out of the narrow entry way between our two cars - and my parking neighbor was no where to be found. Ooohhhhh my blood boiled. "I knew he was an evil selfish monster..." I grumbled as I got my bags out of my car trunk - and when I closed the trunk and locked my car, there he was. Evil parking spot neighbor stood before me with his pregnant wife. He started with, "I'm sorry for the car door...." -- and I responded with a dramatic "we cannot go on like this!!! No, we cannot. I am soooooo frustrated as it takes me so long to get in and out of my parking spot. I struggle so hard to park mindfully in my spot - and I struggle so hard to not hit your car. I have to get my husband to rescue me to park my car sometimes because it is so difficult. I need for you to work with me - Please! Please be more careful and park as far left as possible, so that I can park as far right as possible!... I can't go on like this anymore!" Yes... a lot of pent up emotion came out there.
(Poor parking neighbor... completely taken off guard and speechless...)
My parking spot neighbor began being the best parking spot neighbor ever. I reported back to my husband the following week and told him how wonderful it had been recently parking in and out of my spot in the garage (and how bad I was feeling about my emotive experience with them...). Dae, so thoughtful he is, suggested we write our parking neighbors a thank you note to let them know how much we appreciate the better situation. We wrote one and left our note of appreciation on their car. The next week, we found this note on my car from our parking spot neighbors:
Lesson #1: Never assume you know the true intention and thoughts of another.
Lesson #2: Positive reinforcement. Say thank you - a hand written note often does wonders.
Lesson #3: For the sake of having 3 lessons, ... talking and sharing with my husband is awesome. He gives really good advice.