Today I opened the front door for my own angry looking seven year old son. He rushed in without as much as a goodbye to his buddy who was standing on the sidewalk in front of our house. As he stormed past me he said, “Somebody hurt me!” This conversation ensued:

Me: I’m sorry buddy are you ok?
Son: Yes, but it hurts!
Me: Was it an accident?
Son: Yes
Me: Did he apologize? Because I would be disappointed if your friend apologized for something accidental and you didn’t accept their apology.
Son: No, he didn’t apologize.
Me: Well, he sure looked like he felt bad. I know that your first reaction when you are hurt is to get angry. I do that too. But usually, the other person didn’t mean to hurt you. They feel bad and you should forgive them.

This is when I had an epiphany. I’ve said similar things 1001 times to my children with regard to being physically hurt. Yet, this applies, maybe even more so, to HURT FEELINGS.

Consider the invitation you didn’t get, that comment your neighbor made about dogs barking that you think may have been directed at your dog, the call or text that wasn’t returned, that time your mother-in-law forgot your birthday, the Facebook post about “people who try too hard” that rubs you the wrong way because you wonder if the reference was directed at you. What if we trained ourselves to default to the perception that USUALLY the offending person didn’t mean to hurt us? What if we assumed, that were they to realize they hurt our feelings, they would be sorry and ask our forgiveness?

That quantum perception shift will have a profound impact on your happiness. Most people are busy and relatively self centered, perhaps by necessity. I myself have four children and a household to care for. Sometimes, taking care of those demands are all I can manage. Which is why I don’t consider myself a particularly good friend. At least, I am not a particularly attentive friend.

I will not always remember to check in. I will sometimes forget to include someone. I may occasionally be careless with my choice of words. However, my heart doesn’t love or treasure my friends any less fully. I just require low maintenance friendships that are confident in my love for them. And, I hope that the people in my life know that when I hurt them, the pain was never intentionally inflicted. I will let my loved ones down. I am human. When I know I have done so, I will ask for forgiveness. When I don’t know, I hope they forgive me anyway or confront me so that I can ask for it.

When I realized these truisms about myself as a friend and a person, I necessarily had to apply the same grace and forgiveness to the people in my life. I choose to assume the best. I choose to assume it’s not my dog or my personality being referenced. I choose to believe that the missed invitation was an oversight. I choose not to be offended. So frankly, if you did intend to insult me, I probably missed the reference; I’m happier for it.

I also choose to ask difficult questions. I’m the person who addresses the elephant in the room. I will walk straight into uncomfortable situations. Most of the time, I have found happy result in doing so.

Which brings us full circle to the epiphany: In a prior blog Panning for Gold I reference the fact that I seem to be shielded from bitchy women. Today I figured out how I am shielded. My “inner bitch filter” IS the choice to believe that the people in my life have good intentions. The result: my life is filled with strong, intelligent, helpful, amazing people that I constantly feel blessed to have in my life.

Thank you to my extremely talented sister, Rebecca Lamothe, for allowing me to use this picture she took in Ireland for my blog.