The 10-Foot Fogbank

Sing along if you know the words. Someone says something to you that you weren't expecting. It catches you off guard, and what they said hurt your feelings. You feel embarrassed or ashamed. Doesn't matter if the person is family, a friend, or an acquaintance at work. Doesn't matter if it's done on purpose or on accident. You're angry at them, and now your world is clouded with negativity. Perhaps you're even in revenge mode, calculating how you can respond to hurt them back.

I spent a good portion of my adult years looking like this when someone caught me off guard with their words:

It wasn't a pretty sight.

A few years ago, I forced myself to take a step back from my anger and let my mind examine why I was feeling this way. I found a quiet room devoid of distractions or noise. I closed my eyes and took some calming deep breaths. After taking a few minutes of letting my mind settle, a unique scene popped into my mind. I was standing by myself in a field, encircled by dark grey fog. About 10 feet of visibility. I stood there for a few minutes, unable to see anything past the fog. Then my mind watched the fog dissipate, revealing a clear landscape of mountains and fields. I could see so much more than before.

It hit me then that the dark fog was my narrow-minded interpretation of why someone hurt my feelings. I was only focused on myself and what I knew. My limited universe of knowledge. After the fog cleared, I realized there was a lot more to their situation. I allowed myself to consider that the other person could be hurting, or stressed out, or simply oblivious to what they say or do to others. I gave them the benefit of the doubt...and I gave myself permission to give them grace for the hurtful words. By considering their situation, I learned that their hurting me may not have been done on purpose. After a couple of exhales, I visualized others whom I could apply grace and forgiveness to.

Perspective is essential for our inner peace.