If you value your sleep, don’t have kids. I’m just kidding, of course. I am, however, writing this after another night of interrupted sleep. Our little boy is teething at the moment so a decent sleep is but a distant memory.
We love our little boy dearly, and this love comes easily during the day when he is happy and cute. During the night, however, our patience can get seriously tested when he is crying and all we want to do is sleep. Anyway, this got me thinking. It is easy to love a baby when they are happy and cute, but when they really need to be loved is during the difficult times when they have been crying for hours non-stop. After all, they are the ones in real pain (especially if they are teething). In my opinion, these are the moments that matter, and therefore how we act during these moments define what type of parents we are.
You don’t have to be a parent to experience these “moments of truth”. As a friend, partner, or employee you will encounter similar situations. In fact, I was first introduced to the idea of moments of truth while working in the call center for a bank. As you can imagine, we got our fair share of angry customers. We were always encouraged, though, to see difficult customers as an opportunity to show what we were made of by still providing great service at these toughest of times.
Moments of truth are inevitable in relationships. Without fail, our partner will do something that upsets us at some point. It is how we respond to this that defines what type of partner we are. Do we seek to fully understand our partner’s actions? Or do we decide to hold a grudge and store this information as future ammunition?
In regards to friendships, one of my beliefs is that a good friend will stand up for their friends even when that friend is not present. As I ranted about in The Trash Talking Epidemic, people love to talk about other people. Often this talk is fairly harmless, but if it turned nasty would you be willing to stand up for your friend that isn’t present? This is may not be easy as it involves confrontation, but it is what a good friend should do.
In summary, we may imagine ourselves as a good parent, friend, partner, and employee. But if we only show love, loyalty, or understanding when it comes easily, we may have to think twice about whether we really are how we imagine ourselves to be. As should be clear from this article, often the way we should act in moments of truth is far from the natural response. But it is doing what is right in these moments that define us as a good parent, friend, partner, or employee.
With this in mind, here are 3 effective steps for dealing with these types of moments:
1. Have awareness: be aware of moments of truth by paying attention to your emotions. If you feel unsure, stressed, angry, or confused then take a moment to recall this article and realize that you are being tested.
2. Seek to understand: just as a doctor first seeks to diagnose before prescribing, you should first seek to understand a given situation before acting. When dealing with people this can be done through empathetic listening, which basically involves getting inside another person’s frame of reference.
3. Act appropriately: in any given situation, you always have a choice as to how you act (see my article 7 Life Changing Ideas for more on this point). And in moments of truth, it is our actions that define us. Take what Robert Frost referred to as “the road less traveled” – the road of love, understanding, and compassion.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
– Robert Frost
Photo by deveion acker