Jason's Rule #2: Assume You Don't Know the Big Picture
A while back, I wrote a post about my #1 rule: Don’t worry about what you can’t control. This is indeed my number top rule for living a peaceful and effective life. But I have more rules that help me find peace, and I’d like to share #2.
Rule #2: Assume you don’t know the big picture.
Am I saying that people sometimes overreact and take things out of context? Note: That last sentence is dripping with sarcasm. Of course people do this all the time.
The world is full of misunderstandings, overreactions, and people taking offenses for things that were never meant to be hurtful in any way. If you are offended, maybe there was malicious intent behind it, maybe that person has a position that is contrary to your beliefs. But maybe not.
Social media has made this problem worse. Social media is a fantastic tool if we use it wisely, a great source of information. But sometimes people (and I include myself here) see a headline, or a friend’s post, and make an assumption. In all honesty, that assumption is probably almost always false. At the very least, it’s not the whole picture.
For example, I used to work in a telemarketing job to get through college. Anyone who has worked in telemarketing knows the kind of hate and slander that you can receive in that profession. It’s not for the faint of heart. Yet, that job taught me more about this rule than any other experience. The people on the other end didn’t understand who I was, what my life was like, or frankly anything at all. Also, on the flip side, I didn’t understand what they were going through. They may have been having a really bad day when they blew up over the phone at me. It’s not my place to judge.
There’s a famous quote by Scottish author, Ian Maclaren, who said, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is something I always try to keep in mind whenever I get irritated with someone. So I try to treat everyone and everything as if I don’t know the whole story. If something happens that offends me, remembering that I don’t know the big picture helps stop me from overreacting. It helps me avoid being a reactive person, but that’s the next rule. 😉