News flash: Nobody is perfect.
Continually focusing on others’ imperfections can easily clutter up our lives and get in the way of a remarkable life. As long as someone’s human rights aren’t being violated or no one’s life is in danger, it usually isn’t worth the energy to get angry and upset over an aggravating behavior.
I read an incredible post on Gretchen Rubin’s website The Happiness Project back in 2006 titled “Remember to cut people slack” that spoke to the heart of this issue:
The “fundamental attribution error” is a psychological phenomenon in which we tend to view other people’s actions as reflections of their characters, and to overlook the power of the situation to influence their actions: I assume that the guy in the drugstore is a jerk who is trying to cut in line, when in fact, he’s a considerate guy who’s rushing to get home with the medicine for his sick, miserable girlfriend.
With ourselves, however, we acknowledge the pressures of the situation. So when other people’s cell phones ring during a movie, it’s because they’re inconsiderate boors. If my cell phone rings during a movie, it’s because I’m a conscientious mother who needs to be able to get a call from a babysitter.
In our personal quests to be better people, we accept that there will be days when we falter. We know that there will be dim moments when we fail to shine. And, we can save time and energy if we acknowledge that others will experience similar bumps along the way.
How can we let go of the anger and focus on more positive behaviors? Try out the following:
- Ask questions of those around you so that you can get a better idea of what is preventing them from doing their best — don’t make the assumption that the person is incompetent.
- Take a few moments to think over a situation before you respond (this is something I definitely need to do more often).
- Cut yourself some slack when you don’t live up to your own expectations.
- Cut other people slack when they don’t live up to your expectations.
- Lend a helping hand instead of making a critical remark.
- Remember that there is a lot to be learned from our inevitable mistakes.
How do you work to cut other people slack in your life?