When I’ve gone through the toughest times of my life, I never let people know. I just put my head down and I plowed ahead. And while I’m never one to complain or say that I have it bad, I have dealt with my fair share of struggles through managing personal relationships, raising two kids and addressing financial burdens -- sometimes all at once.
I never let people in, though, during those times, because I never wanted anyone to judge me or think that I was weak. I’m not saying that this is the way to handle your own life, but it is the way that I’ve chosen to handle mine. For better or worse…
As a result, in my darkest hours, people around me still treated me the same way. They still expected the same cheerful, optimistic, over-achieving, hyper-productive Jim. There was no room for a frown, an excuse or a mistake. I preferred it that way, but even I must admit that every once in awhile, I wish someone had cut me a break. There were days I didn’t feel like smiling, didn’t feel like being positive and didn’t feel like producing.
But I put my head down and plowed ahead no matter what.
It was my fault. Those around me had come to expect certain things of me, and I gave them no indication that they should expect otherwise in the moment. How could I not deliver unless I explained why?
Sure, each situation and burden soon passed only to be met with a new challenge -- but then again that is life. Life is about learning from our experiences, so what did I learn from these struggles?
I should probably learn to come clean and let people in. But honestly, I don’t always want to, and we each have our reasons for handling our own situations. We each have our ways of dealing with issues. That’s not my lesson learned.
What I learned instead is that we should cut people a break.
All of us, all of us, are going through something, something, at any given time. While we might not talk about it, that doesn’t mean it’s not there and that it’s not causing real impact.
So cut people a break.
If they seem a little less patient one day, let it go. If their normally perfect work product is a little less than perfect once in awhile, then fix it for them. If they snap at you and cut you off multiple times in a row, roll with it. Maybe they’re going through something difficult and just can’t live up to their own standards in that moment. Maybe there’s something else going on that is getting in their way right now. Maybe something else is up.
Cut them a break.
No need to say anything; no need to make it a big deal. They might not even notice -- and perhaps that’s exactly what they need. Perhaps they just need someone to let it slide this one time, someone to turn the other way and not make it a big deal.
This is what I’ve learned.
We have no idea what people are going through at any given moment, so cut them a break when perhaps they need it most. I would have appreciated it through the years.