Thursday, July 10, 2014
Please Give Me A Break
The title is not meant to be said with an eye roll. Please allow me to explain.
I came across an article about fundamental attribution error. This happens when we see a person doing something that irks us and we assume that he is doing it because he is a bad person. We are attributing to that person the label of idiot, moron, ass, etc. You've done it. I've done it. We've all done it.
Fundamental Attribution Error is the tendency to overestimate the effect of personality and downplay the effect of the situation that the person is in. It makes us jump to the conclusion that the individual is doing what they are doing on purpose, possibly just to irritate us.
Let's do this less. Let's give people a break.
So you see a person park in the handicapped spot, get out, and walk into the store unaided by wheelchair or cane. She seems to be walking okay. You think that she is merely lazy, especially perhaps if that person is overweight. Your irritation at the fact that she can park close while you are gonna have to park in the back forty grows to a dull roar in your ears. But if you realize that your thinking includes a fundamental attribution error you can maybe see that she may be suffering with every step. She may have a physical condition that comes and goes. She may be so petrified of being outside that she will panic if she is far away from the store. Or she may be going into the store to pick up her handicapped son who has been shopping with his caregiver.
You just don't know what another human being is going through at any given time unless you ask them. And that can be construed as rude.
To look at me, I appear normal, albeit a little heavy. I walk with a cane because of my painful back and because my balance is not the best. But what is not apparent is the struggle I face just to keep it together. To spend one day without a panic attack or the feeling that I just want to stay in bed forever.
The article lists situations where you should not feel dissed, such as someone not saying thank you when you hold the door open for them. If you just stop to think that perhaps your reaction contains a fundamental attribution error before you call them a name, you will feel better about yourself and them.
So if I don't hear you when you say hello or good day to me, please give me a break. I am deaf in one ear and often miss things said on my deaf side. Quite often I am talking to myself in my head, giving myself some encouragement to just get through the hallway and out to the car.
The world will be better and you will feel better, I believe, if you just give people a break. And that includes giving yourself a break from a rise in your blood pressure from thinking that the slight is personal.
And I know, I know, some people really are just asses and they do things to make others mad just for fun. I have personally known a few. But I would like to think that those people are rare.
Thank you for giving me a break.