Helen’s flight was delayed for a couple of hours. She had a long day full of work meetings, so she decided to treat herself. She bought a book she had always wanted to read, along with a big bag full of freshly baked cookies. She found a seat in a quiet place and was soon engrossed in her book. As she read, she grabbed a delicious, warm cookie from her bag and began munching cheerfully.

Suddenly, to her utter astonishment, the man sitting next to her casually reached into her bag, grabbed a cookie and started eating it. Helen froze. She had always struggled with face-to-face conflicts and avoided it at all cost. She especially didn’t want to cause a scene in such a public place. Instead, she took another cookie out of her bag, pretended not to notice the man, and continued to read her book. But each time she ate a cookie, he had the audacity to also help himself to one as well!

Helen felt her temperature rising, and her palms emitted beads of sweat as they held onto her scrumptious cookies which were rapidly being devoured by this obnoxious man. But she still didn’t want to cause a scene, so she just let him eat her bag of cookies with her until there was only one last cookie left. Exasperated as she was, Helen was curious to see what the man would do with the last remaining cookie. 

He calmly took it, broke it in half, and offered her half of her very last cookie! She was infuriated. She snatched it, glaring at him, and marched off to board her plane. She was more furious with herself than him. She had done nothing and simply let him get away with bad behavior.

By the time Helen got to her seat, she was seething. As she unpacked her book, she fantasized about how she wished she had responded to the rude, tactless, and audacious man. But as she pulled out her book, the bag of fresh, unopened cookies she had bought fell out. To her horror, she realized, all that time, she had been eating from his bag of cookies. And he was gracious and generous enough to let her. He even kindly shared half of his very last cookie. Helen cringed at the ungrateful way she had behaved, including the way she snatched his last cookie from his hand. She was embarrassed and ashamed, but it was too late to apologize or even thank him. 

Before making any judgements, be sure to look at a situation from all perspectives. Be open to something being different than how you perceived it to be. Often, many things are not exactly as they seem.

Remember, when we physically point our finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at us. It may seem easier to blame and point the finger at an external factor because it releases us from any accountability. But we are always accountable in some form, whether through our actions, words, or thoughts. When and if we accept this, we can actually be empowered by it. Blaming other people, things, or circumstances for our life situation connotes that we are a victim, helpless to external factors. However, when we take responsibility for our life, we acknowledge that we are the one that created or significantly contributed to this moment. Therefore, we are the one that can change it. We align with being a powerful creator of our life and become more open and confident about finding solutions. 

Rather than engaging in a story you’ve conjured up in your mind about a challenging life situation, a version of your “bag of cookies,” pause and be open to seeing it from a different perspective. Then remember, you are the person that can change it.

Mental Exercise:

1. Contemplate on a challenging situation in your life. 

2. Acknowledge the ways you may have contributed to it. 

3. Be open to seeing it from a different perspective. 

4. Explore new ways to resolve it.