Look for Innocent Intent

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Have you ever wanted to shout out “I object” during a heated conversation? Have you ever felt like a helpless witness being badgered on the witness stand? We all have been there and don’t want to go back.

We all control how we feel following either of these experience. No one can control how you feel except you. It is okay to ride the emotional roller coaster of anger, sadness, fear, and disgust. It is okay to take as much time as you need to reset and move forward.

One of the worst things that you can is measure your self-worth in that moment based on how the defendant made you feel. You control how others make you feel and should never let someone else make you feel any less than the unique you that you are. As you determine how to move forward, keep these things in mind.

Define the intent of the person.  People do not wake up every day and say “I am going to be condescending, rude, selfish, hateful, etc. today. That’s my mission.” We must believe that deep down everyone has good in their heart. The problem is that people fall victim to portraying bad intent due to strong emotions, insecurities or stress going on in life. These are not excuses for their words or actions. These are the life struggles that we all have.

Embrace the person’s innocence until proven guilty. Look back at the history of your interactions with this person. Do you see a pattern of behavior? If the answer is no, then the defendant is innocent and deserves your forgiveness and grace. Remember that their intent was good even though their words or actions were different. If the answer is yes, then the defendant is guilty. You do need to forgive the person, but need to establish boundaries for future interactions. It is important that you do not let them affect your emotions or your self-worth because they have too much control over you.

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite books that says it well:

“If you continue to blame other people for “making” you feel guilty, they still have power over you, and you are saying that you will only feel good when they stop doing that. You are giving them control over your life. Stop blaming other people.”
― Henry CloudBoundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No

Love your intent and show it.  Think often about the intent of your words and your actions before you say them or do it. You should strive to always have good intent and show it no matter how the other person treats you. You have heard the saying “kill them with kindness.” That’s the best philosophy to have. Scripture says “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10 (NIV) If you do need a reset moment, then reset, give yourself grace, apologize and move forward.

When a conversation heats up, stay out of the courtroom. Try to show good intent always, focus on good intent for the other person and give grace, lots of grace.

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