someone else and what motivates them to behave as they do.
Since we can only guess at the motivations and thoughts of
others, we might as well make them up in a positive light.26 In
other words, presume that others are acting with positive intent
toward themselves, given their very own circumstances and
story. It isn’t always about me…
I love to shop at Target, but there is one checkout
person that always gets under my skin. She and her sour look
are almost always there when I enter the store. I wonder what
has or is going on in the life of someone who presents such
grouchiness toward customers? Once when she was rude to
me, we got into an exchange of words. This was complicated
by the fact that my then five year old was observing everything
that I said and did. Yes, I felt somewhat justified and better in
the moment when I let some words fly, but it did not last. My
heart sank as I then had to try and justify my actions to my
daughter. My conscience won out, and I ended up owning my
own role in a heated exchange and then returning to apologize
for my part in the fray.
Positive intent is approaching others with the
conviction and belief that they are just trying to take care of
themselves in the best way they know. Sometimes with
children, that can look like a raging fit or an icy silence. The
ultimate goal is to teach and model healthy ways to express
emotions, but that takes a lot of repetition, time, self
awareness, and energy. We will be more successful with that
when we approach our children or anyone else in life with the
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