Understanding the way other people think and feel is a challenge, especially when their ideas and thoughts are very different from our own. When we care about someone we want to respect their way of life and try to see things from their point of view.
But it doesn't stop there. We also need to respect other people’s wishes, even if we are concerned about them or disagree with their choices.
I've had issues with this for most of my life and I know how frustrating it can be. There was the time that my sister organised a surprise birthday party for me even though she knew I didn't particularly like them. I had planned to go away for my birthday until she told me the party was all arranged, so I ended up doing what she wanted to do instead of what I wanted to do.
Image courtesy of anankkml / Freedigitalphotos.net
Then there was the time that I called a painter to quote me on painting the exterior of my house. When I told him what colour I wanted he told me ‘no’ and went on to tell me the colour that he thought would look better. Consequently I didn't hire him. This are just two small examples.
Even if we think that people are making bad choices, it’s important to find out the reasons for their choices before we condemn them.
Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / Freedigitalphotos.net
I've known this to happen to others as well. One of the most common examples is in the area of gift-giving. When we buy a gift for someone, it’s important to ensure that it’s something we know they will love and that will suit their lifestyle and not necessarily something we particularly like ourselves.
I recall one year when my mother asked my sister-in-law what she would like for her birthday. When my sister-in-law asked for a dictionary my mother responded with, ‘What a stupid present! I’m not buying you that.’
For me the need to have my wishes respected can be a constant source of guilt. Being an introvert, I don’t particularly like social gatherings, busy places or unexpected visitors. I’m not anti-social - it’s just a personality trait. Sadly though, most people don’t understand and I often find myself either giving in or making poor excuses. When I’m at home it’s not uncommon for me to let the phone ring or to not answer the door. I need solitude as a means of recharging after work but many times I've offended people who don’t understand this part of my personality.
Image courtesy of smarnad / Freedigitalphotos.net
The good thing that comes out of it for me is that I understand the point of view of others like me. As long as someone is happy and living the way they want to without harming others, we need to let them be and to respect their wishes – even if we don’t agree with them.