We all know people who text us and then, when we don’t text back immediately, they get butt hurt and skulk off in a huff, either in real life or virtually.

We also probably know–because we are such sharp cookies ourselves–that if someone doesn’t return our texts immediately, it probably means they were preoccupied or got distracted or pulled away for dinner or an errand or some other daily obligation, and we chalk it up to Life.

And we let it go.

In other words, we don’t take it personally.

What we may not always realize, however, is that’s how it is with everything in life.

Any time someone does something that rubs us the wrong way, offends us, or annoys us, the easiest way to put it behind us and stay peaceful and calm is to admit that we don’t know their story.

Whatever their behavior, there may be something going on of which we are completely unaware.

In fact, that’s usually the case.

People’s intentions, generally speaking, are not malicious. They are not jonesing to hurt, offend, or annoy us. They do not derive any kind of sick pleasure from torturing us.

(Except for that one ex you have, but they were always crazy, am I right?).

The bottom line is that we have NO IDEA what they’ve been through that may have caused that behavior or action. Maybe something occurred in their life that day—an argument, a bill that was higher than expected, or even a full-blown tragedy-–that threw them off kilter and distracted them from being courteous or gracious or considerate at just the nano-second you stepped up.

Trust me: Everybody’s got a story.

But most of the time?

Their. Story. Has. Nothing. To. Do. With. You.

So if we learn to respond from that perspective – namely, that we don’t know their story – we start to develop a habit and pattern of compassion.

People who embrace certain faith systems refer to this as Grace.

And to me, the funny thing about grace is that all of us definitely want it, and we often feel we deserve it, buuuuuuut we’re not always quite as generous about doling it back out.

So the next time someone doesn’t return your text, or says something to you that seems rude or inconsiderate, or steps on your toes, tell yourself that you don’t know their circumstances.

Remind yourself that you don’t know their story.

Step back, take a breath, and think about where they might be coming from, what they might be going through.

And then ask yourself, “How might this change my reaction?”

How would it change things if you asked, “What is their story?”

And if you’re feeling really courageous, you can always ask them that question directly, as well. TZT

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