Sometimes we get blinded by what we think we know. (Click here for an example involving cows.) I would suggest that even more often, we get blinded by what we feel. When I was younger I participated in organized sports. I was invested 100%. I rejoiced in the victories, and wallowed in pits of despair after losses. One night our team had suffered a particularly bad loss. Embarrassingly bad. We all went to dinner before boarding the buses and heading home. I sat at my table alone and discouraged any attempts to talk. I was wallowing. It was nearly time to go home so I headed to the ladies room. Or so I thought. I walked in to the bathroom and stood face to face with my very male coach. The look in his eyes demanded answers, “What are you doing in here?” The look in my eyes screamed embarrassment, “What am I doing in here?” I ran out thoroughly mortified and had to endure endless ribbing from teammates for the rest of the season.
Now anybody could have made the same mistake of walking into the wrong bathroom. But the reason I made that mistake was I allowed my emotions to distract me from a very basic observation. I was so wrapped up in what had gone wrong in my day that I didn’t pay attention to what was going on around me. This is not uncommon. It is natural to focus on things in our days that elicit a strong emotional response. Sometimes this is a happy response, but more often we have strong negative responses. It is not natural in this situation for us to focus on other’s problems. Our natural response is to look for comfort. We want someone to help make us feel better. This, however, is exactly the time to focus on someone else. If we focus too intensely on our problems, hurt feelings, frustrations, etc. we tend to move into self-pity. If you will choose instead to help someone else, you will see your troubles taking a back seat. You WILL be happier. A rising tide lifts all boats. As you support those around you, you will find yourself rising out of the emotional haze that prevented you from seeing clearly.