Hidden burdens

I wrote about Secret Sadness the other day and have been thinking about it often this week.

I have been sick with a heavy cold and sinus infection for weeks, so I have had a constant pounding headache, cold sweats, my body has ached. Trying to make a doctor’s appointment I had to ring back three times before they gave me a time in a month (!). Everywhere there have been long queues, problems with public transport, problems with purchases. The list goes on.

I idly wondered one day…if I lost my temper and had a public meltdown over something small like a bus driver shutting the bus doors in my face because the bus was full – would people understand that it was the last straw? Or would they think I was a grumpy old lady making a fuss about nothing?

Everyone we pass during our days could be carrying burdens we know nothing about. That could make them cross, irritable, distracted.

The photo above really illustrated it for me. Both people in the photo above have problems but they only know about their own burden, not the other person’s. The man can’t see the snake about to bite the woman, and he is probably wondering why she can’t help him by lifting herself up more. The woman cannot see the heavy rock on the man’s back and is probably wondering why he can’t pull her up more strongly.

For the past ten years or so, I have tried to be extra nice to people who are rude, irritable, brusque, assuming that it is more likely they are having a bad day than that they are an unpleasant person. I thank them for their service, compliment them on their outfit or something else, or chat about the weather. I They almost always soften and brighten up if you look them in the eye and see them as people who have burdens, rather than just a cog performing a service.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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