People are frustrating, aren’t they? Seriously. Everywhere you go you have people distracting you, pulling you down, or are just flat disappointing. It could be at home, while you’re driving, at work or even just milling around a public place.
A few weeks ago I went grocery shopping. Normally, my wife and I go together because we enjoy it and we can knock it out. I don’t know what was in the air, but it seemed like every single person was just in the way. A few people were using their carts like a life support system dragging their feet along behind. Others were staring at their screens oblivious to any movement happening around them.
At the end of each aisle, I was hoping for either a stop sign or a traffic signal. Instead, people jerked suddenly as each person’s cart narrowly missed from slamming into each other. As I wandered down each aisle with my list in hand, I felt like I was trying to maneuver through an unreasonable obstacle course. There were folks just standing and lost in contemplation and others checking out each label with incredible concentration. I could feel the pulse in my neck rise to an unhealthy level because of how no one was considering others. I felt they were acting as if the only person in the store was them.
I’ll skip how I glared at the various checkout lines which added another layer of what I perceived as ineptitude. I finally paid, went to my car and zoomed home. As I slammed the bags of groceries on the kitchen island while unloading them, I regaled my story and experience to my wife (recovering from total knee surgery.) She was patient in letting me dump my bucket, but when I finished she innocently asked, “Do you know what those other people were thinking or going through?”
She was spot on. I was so perplexed why others who were “in my way” weren’t thinking about others without realizing how selfish I was being myself. Her simple question deflated my self-righteousness and reframed my head. You see we tend to look at and talk about people in 3rd person. EVERYONE else is frustrating (not me). EVERYONE is just an unnecessary obstacle to me getting real work done (not me). I think you see where this is going . . .
I’m ashamed I let the circumstances around me get me so worked up. Instead of enjoying being in a crowd of strangers trying to accomplish a common goal, I thought they were a nuisance. Sound familiar? If you step back and listen to the conversations happening at work, at home, or out in public, you’ll hear people tearing each other down versus lifting them up. It’s easier. It makes us “feel good” to be above others, but it is the worst thing we can do.
We live in a day and age where demeaning others is valued far more than encouraging others. I don’t know when this happened but it’s awful. We are fortunate to have others in our lives. We truly are. We’re also fortunate to be surrounded by talented and unique people at work. In order for us to stem the divisiveness that tries to overcome every conversation, stop, pause, breathe, and then – lift others up.
You can do this. You know when others lift you up it brings joy and a break from what you’re normally experiencing. Being a people lifter takes more effort, energy, and intention to act against the tide of how most people treat and view others. Trust me, I try to be a people lifter most of the time. It’s draining but worth it.
I needed my wife’s simple admonition and I’m grateful she broke through the ugly approach I had taken that day. I needed someone to show me how to “break with” so I could “break through.” This week let this post be the “break with” for you and those around you. It’s time to be a people lifter – so we all can rise !!