Optical Illusion, The Thirtieth Week of the Second Year in the new Abnormal

Jul 29, 2023 by Janet Zinn


I was out for an early walk to beat the heat.  Ahead of me I could see a large pile of dog excrement, and my mind went on a rampage.   I got angry at the unknown dog walker or owner who was selfish at best, and a menace to our neighborhood, as far as I was concerned.  I righteously congratulated myself on my dog etiquette and my thoughtfulness in always making sure I have enough bags and I clean up after Lucy.  I railed at the many dog owners in the city who don’t think of others, which then got me on a mental rant about those who let their dogs go leashless in the parks and on the sidewalks.  I had really worked myself up by the time I passed what I thought was poop but turned out to be an errant dark sock.  

My condemnation of others and the easy assumption of others’ guilt based on an unsubstantiated conjecture was fascinating to me.  How had I become so judgmental so quickly?  What has happened that I assume the worst in others rather than think the best of them?  I know there have been times when I was misunderstood, and the worst was thought of me.  It is not a good feeling.  So, why am I making that same mistake?  

I seem to have selective grace for others.  I judge those I don’t know.  Or I make fast determinations when I’m uncomfortable with my own thoughts and feelings.  Sure, I, like most New Yorkers do not take kindly to those who don’t pick up after their dogs.  But not liking something as opposed to working myself up into a tither are very different sets of circumstances.  

When I get upset that quickly about perceived slights, then I know I need to take a step back to assess what might really be upsetting me.  And, if I find there’s nothing in particular that’s distressing, then I know I may be tired, hungry, or burnt out.  Luckily, I had the rest of my walk to discover what was underneath my rant.  And, even more fortuitous, I was able to get a nap in so that I didn’t spend the remainder of the day tied up in knots.  

Self-Care Tips:

  • When you get agitated quickly, take a breath, and check in with yourself to see if there is an unmet need, such as nourishment, more sleep, down time, connection, or anything else.  Have compassion for yourself, no matter your previous reaction, and see if it’s possible to provide what is needed.  
  • Check out Tony Bennett on YouTube, whether it’s his classics or the many duets he sang.  The videos can be mood changers.
  • Make someone’s day.  Thank those who you encounter during regular daily business hours and beyond.  Give thanks to cashiers, sanitation workers, postal workers, anyone who is kind enough to hold a door, caregivers of others, wait staff, and whoever you see providing a service.