I was involved in a VERY minor fender bender yesterday. It was one of those flukey situations where I was turning right at an intersection. I had a yield, and there was a car about 20 feet in front of me. I looked back for 1/2 a second and the car in front of me slammed on its brakes, and boom! I smacked into the rear bumper. My fault, which I openly admit, but mostly a case of bad timing. I was only traveling about 3km an hour so it wasn’t more than just a little tap.
I watched as the woman in the car opened the door and climbed out, all the while thinking to myself “Please let her be nice, please let her be nice!”. I took one look at her disgruntled face and thought “Crap. She’s mean.”
In that moment, I decided there were two ways I could approach this situation. I could jump out, criticize her for slamming on her brakes, be stressed, panicked and flustered.
Or, I could decide to just accept the situation for what it was.
I hopped out of my car, and walked over to her, and smiled. I got down and inspected her bumper, and said “I’m terribly sorry, ma’am, terribly sorry. Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any damage!” To which she replied, “Well…MY back hurts!!!” She was not a happy camper. “I want your insurance information!”, she yelled. This was not going well.
Again, I reminded myself to remain completely present and attentive to what she was saying, instead of letting my own ego start to defend my actions.
“Of course! I’ll be right back.” Smiled again. I went to the car and got my info, wrote it down and included my cell phone number. The woman was standing outside her car, rubbing her back, sighing, shaking her head. Projecting her negative energy all over the place.
I hopped back out of the car, still smiling, still present, and handed her my information. “Like I said, I’m really sorry about this, and I hope your back feels better. Here’s my information, and if you need anything else just give me a call.” Smiled again. And that’s when it happened.
All of a sudden, the woman’s expression changed from one of disdain and frustration to something very pleasant. She said to me, “It’s just that I worry because I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for months about my back and when the car hit I felt it jarr again. Thanks for giving me this information.” And….wait for it…she SMILED at me!
I said “Take care!” and got back in my car, feeling extremely good.
When faced with any sort of adversity in your day, try just turning on the sunshine. All it takes is bringing your complete awareness to the moment, the situation you are in. Then your mind is free from its thoughts, trying to rationalize and defend your own position in whatever negative influence is going on. And with that kind of clarity, you can really see the other person’s position. And instead of bringing more negativity to something that is already bad, you can bring positive energy and balance. Even the most negative person can’t resist the effects of positive energy being directed their way.
So next time something crappy happens to you – try a bit of sunshine. It’s the perfect antidote.
Photo by Kevin Rosseel, from MorgueFile.