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What's the Motive?

“Elementary, my dear Watson”, Sherlock Holmes would say to his amazed companion, Dr. Watson, as he explained his reasoning in solving a crime. The world-famous detective consistently demonstrated throughout his various escapades one’s need to separate assumptions from facts and always find the motive.

While most of us are not detectives by profession, it will serve us well to act as one the next time we get offended by a close friend, family member or a loved one.

When we get offended, we become emotional and fill up with feelings of hurt, anger and animosity. If we let it linger and do not resolve the situation what usually follows are the negative reactions of resentment, retaliation and eventually the severing of the relationship.

Let’s consider the following scenarios:

Imagine that someone bumps into you from behind and as a result you spill your drink. At first reaction, you may get mad and even curse, but as soon as you turn around and notice that the individual is blind, you will quickly realize that they probably didn’t mean to hurt you and likely bumped into you by mistake not realizing you were standing there. Your feelings of anger will quickly dissipate and get replaced with feelings of compassion for their situation and remorse for your initial reaction.

Now let’s suppose that a close friend, family member or loved one says or acts in a hurtful way towards you.

Ask yourself; what was their motive in hurting you? More often than not, you may realize that

A) Their words or actions had no malicious intent, and you were likely “triggered” due to a previous traumatic event. As a result, the way you perceived their words or actions is completely different than the way they intended it.

Or B) You may realize that due to their upbringing or life’s experiences, they are completely oblivious and essentially blind with respect to how hurtful their words or actions were. Should you choose to bring it to their attention, they will most likely apologize as they had no intended ill will towards you.

Simply put, taking offence at what someone else says or does is a choice. When we get offended, we act as judge, jury and executioner as we determine if a relationship should keep growing or cease to exist. It would be prudent to also act as a detective and find the nature of the motive before we render such an important decision.

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