“A person in pain is a different person.”
– A Dear, Lifelong Friend
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In a recent conversation with a lifelong friend, he shared with me this astute – and valuable – observation. Since then, it has stuck in my mind like glue.
At work and elsewhere, there are times when people you know just don’t act like their usual selves, but as if another person, without their usual logic or laughter, perhaps with anger, mistrust or disdain that is unusual for them. The all-too-common thought is “Where did that come from?”
If it is someone you just recently met, their acting “at you” and not “with you” might lead you to conclude they are someone to avoid. At still other times, it might even be you who is acting out “at” others, leading you to say to yourself, “What got into me?”
Before you react, respond, or change your estimation of others, consider what is generally the most common reason for such a “change of heart.” It is pain. Physical pain, emotional pain, or psychic pain. From a loss, a disease, an unfairness, or possibly a disloyalty.
Before you turn away, stay away or “go back at” someone who has acted with surely unnecessary slight or insult, or undeserved anger or aggression, give this quote a moment of consideration: “A person in pain is a different person than they likely are in their heart.”
While you never need to be another person’s undeserved victim, consider, for the moment at least, that it would only make matters worse for both you and them for you to react in kind, leading only to additional pain in their life and in your own.
There are a lot of people out there in one kind of pain or another. “A person in pain is often a different person” than their true selves. Wherever their pain came from, or is coming from today, don’t let it “invade,” “infect” or instill pain in you. In any such event, an act or expression of kindness can only make things better for all.
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