In the beginning of creation there was a 100% expectation that men will behave as they were created. It was of their own choosing that things went south. We are collateral damage of that original sin. There was the creation, the sin, the cost. And this is the cycle of choice. The thing, the action, the reaction.
Every time we encounter someone whether at the grocery store, the playground, at church or anywhere they are in one of three places. They are creating a thing, acting on a thing or reacting to a thing. Our interaction defines who we are now, not how we were created. We can choose to help them define their thing, help them birth their thing, or help them fix their thing. How we step into the "thing" says much more about us than the thing we are stepping into.
I remember two defining moments in my life as it relates to this very subject. The first was when I was 26 years old and I went to my boss and told him I had applied to Harvard Business School, and if accepted I would be leaving my position with the company for graduate school. Now he had a decision to make as he was now privy to this new information. What would he do? His reaction to hearing my news was this. "Well don't you get your hopes up. I don't even think I could get into Harvard." I was crushed, totally and completely in that moment. He stepped into my thing and tried to break it.
Six months later, I resigned and started my first year at Harvard Business School. I ran into him on NYC train some decade later. He was completely gray and worked for the same company. I was just beginning my own company.
The second defining "thing" moment came two years later. I was a blushing bride at my wedding. My mother was there. She had been married by the Justice Of Peace when she was all of 16 years old. In the middle of the pictures, just at the beginning of the reception she says at me but audible for anyone listening to hear, "Is this over yet? How much longer is this wedding going to last?" Again, crushing, totally devastating. She stepped in and tried to break my thing.
I have found this over time. People bring to you what they are carrying with them. They can't bring out what they don't have on them or in them. So they treat you from a position of their own strength or weakness. We will react based on our own inner fortitude. If we refuse to be broken, we will not break. If we can see past the other person's pain and intention we might even be able to redirect the outcome.
We do this by providing them love and understanding. We do this by refusing to fall victim. We do this by showing them better than we can ever tell them.