What’s My Motivation?
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among all humans, but it seems to particularly affect both the young and the females of the species.
***NOTE: I am, in real life, a human girl. As the song says, “I enjoy being a girl.” We get to wear nail polish and cry at Hallmark commercials and braid hair. What I say here should be directed first at me, then the rest of the females and youths in question.***
Dear humans, stop presuming the motivations of other people. 89% of the time, your presumption is wrong. You know the old saying: “Don’t assume. When you assume, you…are usually wrong.” Judging the motivations of others feels good, certainly, because we generally presume the other person to be some horrible, malicious, hateful, ugly monster, while we are benevolent, faultless, lovely, good-smelling angels. (Which, of course, we all are, especially those of you who are reading this. So attractive!)
In friendship, business meeting, marriage, and parent-child interactions, I believe that 95% of our issues could be resolved without conflict before they even begin if we simply stopped presuming the motivations of the other people involved. Presuming motive builds resentment in our hearts before any interaction even takes places, and escalates a simple, easily-resolved issue into a major, WWIII-esque conflict.
Example: Wife A finds a pair of Husband B’s tighty-whiteys on the floor in front of the hamper. Wife A assumes that Husband B does this (on purpose) because he doesn’t care about her feelings, and proceeds to cry. Wife A then unloads on Husband B every hurt (both perceived and actual) from the last 20 years. Husband B is blindsided by the assault and, rather than escalate the situation, retreats into silence, further enraging and solidifying Wife A’s belief that he doesn’t love her. (In reality, Husband B thought said underpants had made it into the hamper, but was preoccupied with an issue at work that he had to deal with, and simply overlooked the fact that his stanky drawers missed their intended destination.) Now Wife A and Husband B are locked in a crazy, epic battle. No one wins. Casualties escalate. Western Society crumbles.
Emerson Eggerichs has written a couple of awesome relationship books. I’m in the middle of Love and Respect, which I HIGHLY recommend. He talks about the concept of the Crazy Cycle, the beginning of which I’ve described above. Obviously, I can’t go into everything he talks about in the book in a blog post that’s already too long, but the gist of the book is that, while women need to feel love, men need to experience respect. How does one do that? Eggerichs suggests that we start by presuming a benevolent motivation. This will forestall much of the major conflict in marriage, and will make the remaining conflict easier to resolve.
I believe these concepts can be applied to every relationship we have. We start the crazy cycle churning (and this is particularly a blind spot with us women-folk) because we think the world is out to get us. Yes, sometimes the world is out to get us, but I’d wager those times are much fewer than we think they are.
So ladies (and humans in general), STOP presuming the motivations behind the actions or inactions of others. Stop assigning blame. Ask God to help you logically assess the situation without your emotions clouding the issue. You might just find that assuming the best in others actually begets respect, happiness, and positive outcomes.
For more information on how to stop the Crazy Cycle, and to find out about upcoming Love and Respect conferences, check out www.loveandrespect.com.