For a long time I have been practicing curiosity. What this means is that I seek to understand before I assign a meaning to things.
Before I began to practice curiosity I made assumptions about everything. If someone bumped into me and didn't apologize, I would have just assumed the person was "rude". If someone cut me off in traffic, the person became an instant jerk. If the neighbor didn't wave back I would assume I must have done something to make her angry.
I know now the assumptions I used to make were based on my previous experiences in life and at times reflected my deepest fears of not being good enough. The old me used to create a whole story around my assumptions and that story became MY TRUTH. But I learned to start asking "Is this really true?"
Was it really true that I the guy was a jerk because he cut me off OR could it be that he was racing home to attend to an emergency?
Was it really true that the neighbor didn't wave at me because she was angry with me OR could it be that she was just lost in thought about the upcoming wedding of her daughter?
Now I seek to understand before jumping to conclusions.
I am getting better at recognizing when I start to jump to conclusions. When I notice it happening, I stop myself. Whenever possible I get the "real" story. I ask questions and try be open minded. I really listen to what is being said. This process has allowed me to slow down, stay in the moment and connect with people on a deeper level. The clarity allows me to do what is necessary to deal with the truths if something needs to be done. Maybe I do need to apologize for something. Maybe I do need to give someone a hug. Maybe my daughter wasn't really sick, she was just under so much stress and anxiety about school she needed help in dealing with it. Whatever it is, I can face it because I made it a point to find out the truth.
If it's not possible to get to the real story I have the choice to believe that the person's motives are good. The jerk is now a man who must need to get somewhere urgently. The person who didn't apologize for bumping into me is probably having a really bad day. I get to feel compassion instead of anger. I like living this way much more.