Here's an interesting story about the inside-out nature of the human experience. It begins with a vociferous fan at the back-to-back home doubleheaders played by my son's college baseball team two weekends ago. He was the father of a player on the opposing team. For two straight days, and through all four games, this guy cheered extremely loudly. No matter the score, he would not let up.
By the end of the final game, I noticed that many of the parents on our side had become irritated with his behavior. In fact, one parent came up to me and asked my opinion about what they should do about the guy.
I replied, "Nothing. Let him be."
To which the parent inquired, "How can we let him be? He's ruining our experience!"
To which I answered: "First, that's impossible (he can't ruin our experience). And second, the fan hasn't said one negative thing the entire weekend; he hasn't yelled at the umpires, disrespected our players, or used foul language. Sure, his fervor is over the top, but all he's really done is consistently root for his team."
My fellow parent considered my answer for a moment and said, "Hmm, that's an interesting perspective. I didn't look at it that way, but he's still an obnoxious SOB!"
Meanwhile, flash forward to this past weekend. The same parent approached me at another game. He had reflected on our conversation, and it occurred to him that it wasn't the fan who was affecting his emotions -- it was his own judgmental thinking. He agreed that the fan was simply enthusiastic and not the least bit critical. He even claimed that perhaps our parents could learn a lesson about team support from the guy.
Wow. A week prior the fan was Attila the Hun. Now he was a model of passion!
Don't forget: Your perceptions are only shaped one way -- from inside of you to outside of you. Nothing or no one can make you feel a certain way -- not another person's behavior, your environment, or circumstances. Yes, almost always, it will seem like this is not the case. It will look like the world outside drives your senses. But knowing that it can't work that way is what safeguards your experience and how you respond.
The truth is that throughout the course of that weekend, to me, the exuberant fan appeared both enthusiastic and obnoxious -- and his behavior didn't change one bit. Understanding that my own thinking and mindset creates my feelings is what allowed me to keep a level head at those moments when, like the others, I wanted to tell the fan to sit down and shut up. It also allowed me to enjoy the games and find the good in an innocent person who approaches watching baseball differently than I do.
Oh and by the way, if you're wondering if the time is ever right to confront someone like this fan, the answer is yes. But, trust me, you won't feel irritated or wonder about what you should do. You'll just act. Irritated feelings come from your thinking and only your thinking. When you feel that way (regarding any life situation), simply stay in your seat and watch the game. Your perspective will shift in no time.
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