How Not to be a Jerk When Someone’s Life Changes
“No one is a jerk on purpose, so give people the benefit of doubt. Don’t judge others too quickly.”
Though I don’t ever want to be a jerk – on purpose or accidently – I know I can be one sometimes. I say things I shouldn’t. I say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I ask too many questions. But I’m trying to learn how not to be a jerk. To me the opposite of being a jerk is being kind …. so I shoot for kindness, which means considering other’s point of view.
Because I’m familiar with being a jerk when I don’t want to, I assume it happens to others also. As Dr. Oz said, “No one is a jerk on purpose.”
So I try to give others the benefit of doubt when they say something that is unkind. I assume people mean well but they don’t realize how what they say might come across. Often I brush it off and move on. But for certain things I know if people had more information, they won’t be a jerk without knowing it.
I’ve decided today’s the day to tackle an issue ….
On Friday, May 20th, it was seven years since I almost died in an accident.
Each year, this time kinda stinks. I am edgy. I get annoyed quickly. And yes, I’m probably even more jerky than normal (though my family doesn’t want to tell me for fear I’ll bite their head off)
In the middle of being on edge, I spend time thinking about almost dying, going through the trauma and recovering from the nasty injuries. I find reflecting on the journey is unavoidable and painful … but helpful. This unwanted-forced-on-me experience has taught me a few things.
I’ve learned …
- Not to give pat answers.
- To live with the mystery of why.
- That all losses need to be grieved.
- To acknowledge the pain people have.
- Physical wounds aren’t the only ones that need to heal.
- That time alone doesn’t heal wounds… wounds also need to receive proper care to heal.
- To live in the moment … the past is gone, the future is unknown. I have today. Now.
- Our bodies are stronger than we realize if we give them care, exercise and nutrition.
And the list goes on …
Sometimes when I mention what I’ve learned or when I have an opportunity based on my experience … people assume that I’m now grateful for what I went through. That I’m thankful for the torturous experience. When I dare mention otherwise … there’s two general responses.
The kind responses are an understanding nod or comment along the lines of “I’m sorry that you were injured.” Or simply an “I’m sorry” or “It sucks that you were injured.”
Those responses are kind!
Some other responses are not kind (and I’m only pointing these out because I assume you want to be kind and I’m here to help) Eyebrows are raised. I’m gently chided for wishing the accident had never happened. I’m reminded to be thankful for all things. Bible verses are quoted. I’m told that I’m a better person now. I’m told everything happens for a reason (If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, I could have that beach house I dream of)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for what I’ve learned through the experience, for some opportunities I’ve had and for all the wonderful people I’ve met. I am thankful that my body has recovered better than expected.
But I would prefer to skip the pain, the trauma, the lifestyle changes and the daily effects I live with. Yes, I know the effects could be worse … but I also know that the accident is the reason I have the effects I do have, so therefore I wish it had not happened. But I can’t change it, so I aim to make the most of the life I do have.
I live with pain, limitations and a deformed leg. If I should be grateful or even feel ‘blessed’ for that … then shouldn’t you be grateful for the unwanted things in your life? Throw away the hair color and the wrinkle cream. Celebrate your aches and pains. Hell … say hallelujah every time your memory fails you!
In response to Dr. Oz’s message I’m going to try harder to assume no one wants to be a jerk … I’m giving everyone the benefit of doubt. And I’m telling everyone … please be kind to people you interact with by acknowledging their pain/loss/changes without minimizing, glamorizing or religionizing the situation, because that will only add to their pain, not help them.
When someone says something unkind to you, how did you respond? Are you able to give them the benefit of doubt … if so, how?If interested in hearing more about my recovery from the accident, check out my memoir, Because I Can. The book doesn’t have the edge or tone of this post, because I had good editors that helped me tamper my writing in the book. .
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