A human disappointed me today. What should I do?
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Oh, friend. Want to come sit for a few minutes? Let’s walk over here to this bench, the one that overlooks some nature. I like looking at nature when I’m having trouble with humans. Nature has so much less… mega-brains.
Let’s sit here and look out until it feels like we can tackle this big question.
You know, the vast majority of my job is spent talking to people individually. Sometimes I wish I had a best friend who was a marriage counselor or peace treaty diplomat and she could give me advice over weekly wine because it’s hard for me to hear all sides of a story and realize that no one is wrong. (By the way, no one is right, either.)
How can it be that no one is wrong?! This is a hard question. Let’s look back at those hills for a while.
When I hear about a conflict, the first thing I do is try to assess the facts. Who said what? Who else was in the room? What time was it?
Then I ask about your intuition. Why do you think this happened? What does your gut tell you? Why would the person act this way? Why would the group act this way? (This illuminates a lot, by the way. Sometimes this step unknots the whole thing and we realize that it was someone else’s fear that led to the whole conflict. That’s easier to excuse and act on — or at least show some empathy towards.)
If you’re still a mess, we focus in on you. When is the last time you encountered this type of person or conflict? Why does it trigger you? How did you deal with it in the past and can you leverage that now?
Then we look to the future because, no matter what it is, you will encounter this kind of person or conflict again. What do you want to learn from this? What do you want to be able to leverage next time? What if your future memoir was titled “Everything I Learned From That Dumb Person”? (I like being funny sometimes during conflict because HEY LIFE! Take it down a notch.)
Does it sound like I’m not listening to you? Does it seem like I’m taking their side? Let’s look at that nature again.
By the way, look at the way that little sandbar is sticking out of the creek down there. Isn’t that weird? Last time we were here, the sandbar was under water. I guess that happened because there hasn’t been rain in a long time. I guess the creek doesn’t have as much water in it, so it’s starting to dry up.
People are like that, too. They act differently, depending on the season.
By the way, you mentioned that a human disappointed you. I’m sorry about that.
That redwood tree over there has been alive for a long time. I bet there have been a bunch of storms in his lifetime. Look there, how the roots of that tree are all folded around that rock. They just grew around it! And on the other side, they managed to thread through the other trees’ roots.
I wonder if nature is ever disappointed by the cast of characters it has to contend with. Humans that build roads or deer that mow down the fields or droughts that threaten creeks and create islands in rivers…
Some of your disappointments can be solved because the people or the conflicts are amenable to change. But, Everyone, sometimes you are going to encounter a rock or a drought that is out of your control. In those moments, I think you need to ask yourself how you can grow despite it, around it, away from it, above it.
Remember how I said that no one is wrong? Maybe I should be more clear. I think that humans act in accordance with what they believe is right. Humans are always doing what they know how to do.
This is why I generally feel okay after handling humans all day long. I can see that they are all trying their best. I can also see that they have blind spots, that there are things to learn, that some conflicts arise because of plain old boredom. They’re really hard on themselves and even still they somehow disappoint someone.
All this to say, I think you can make the assumption that the other human you mentioned was somehow trying her best.
You can always take a walk in nature to forget about humans for a while. Ants are pretty inspiring. Bees, too. Don’t even get me started on butterflies (THEY LITERALLY GO FROM GOOP TO A NEW ANIMAL I CANNOT EVEN.)
Humans are nature, too.
They have giant amazing brains, but humans are nature too.
I hope that helps.
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