You Should Know Better

It’s never too late to change our minds and think differently. Sometimes we may consider it impossible, sometimes we don’t even consider it, but we can bring about anything we want in our lives.

We are but products of our thoughts, words and actions. If we want to change ourselves and what is happening to us, we have to change our thoughts, words and actions. And keeping that last point in mind, actions, just by thinking about something is not the same as actioning it. Instead, we have to state and clarify what we want or don’t want as long as it takes until we’re sure we’re understood.

Recently, I had an experience that reinforced this belief. It further illustrated for me the fact that most people live their lives without asking themselves or others about what they really want. Therefore, most people end up not having the kind of life they want. Whether it be a “small” everyday thing, or something we think is far more important to us, misinterpretation and miscommunication of our wishes and wants is far too often the culprit for what we may perceive as bad luck or lack of success in life.

It was a very busy evening at the mall. After about 10 minutes of circling around the carpark looking for a free spot, I noticed a couple of cars getting ready to leave. I also noticed another car already waiting to take one of their spaces. I drove closer and pulled up behind the car waiting. I decided to go for the parking space in front of both of us. I slowly overtook the car in front of me and waved to its lady driver pointing to the vacated parking spot in front her; I gestured a question if it was okay for me to park into the spot in front of her, believing she would reverse into the one behind her. She smiled and waved what I interpreted as a go ahead. So I did. I parked in the spot in front of her and never thought about it again.

After about 45 minutes I returned to my car to find a paper note stuck underneath the windscreen wiper. First I thought it was a flyer, but when I opened it, a message to the following effect greeted me:

“It was very rude of you to take my spot the way you did, not to mention the dangerous driving. You have two children in the car. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER!”

I looked around but I couldn’t see anyone looking at me. I was sure I wouldn’t remember the lady’s face let alone the colour or make of her car. I felt sorry for taking what she saw as her spot, which I would never have done intentionally. I also felt upset that there I was left accused without a way to explain my actions away. More importantly I had no way to help correct the definite wrong the lady had experienced because of me and her behaviour that led her to that outcome.

Before I left, I wrote on the back of the note that I was very sorry for taking her parking place and explained the misunderstanding based on our miscommunication. I also wrote down that all it would have taken her to get the spot would have been a simple clarification by her at the time when I parked my car in front of her. I would have said sorry and moved into the other vacant place behind her.

We are frequently so engrossed in our ways of thinking no matter how prejudicial or erroneous they may be that this obscures our capacity to clearly define what we want and also to see other available options in the world around us.

I hope the lady eventually did find my apology note pasted on the wall of the car park. I also hope she did see the empty parking space behind her. And I am hopeful that she did not drive off in a fuming mood, blaming the insolent, uncouth and dangerous driver, with poor children in his care, for the negative ways the society is going these days. What a perfect story to identify with. We would have been fed similar stories countless times through the media or stereotypes associated with road rage. And we choose to follow them without even asking what we could do to turn things around. What can we do to change the way we think, speak and act?

Instead of leaving a note for our parents, partner, teacher, boss, or indeed a driver in a shopping centre carpark, why don’t we say what we really want and say it when it matters? Why don’t we stop, confront our reality and see if we’re understood, and repeat our messages until we get a clear response, no matter what the answer will be?

A host of reasons comes to mind why we don’t do it. And by dwelling on reasons for don’ts oftentimes we move away from just simply going ahead with what we didn’t do, and we want to do. After all, we should all know better?

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