The Benefit of the Doubt

by Scott Noelle

Have you ever been upset with someone for doing or saying something, only to realize later that you had misunderstood them, and you wished you’d given them “the benefit of the doubt”?

Truth is, everyone deserves that benefit, because ALL upsets are misunderstandings born of conditionality.

And no one deserves that benefit more than children. The younger they are, the more their words and actions are merely “experimental,” or rough approximations of things they’ve observed. They’re trying to figure out how life works.

When you give them the benefit of the doubt (for example, by not taking it personally when they experiment with unkind words they’ve heard others use), children learn that their relationship with you is a safe place in which to grow.

And you benefit yourself, too, because you’re doubting your “reason” for being upset. With no such reason, you’re left with the simple pleasures of inner peace, heart-felt connection, and appreciation of Life’s endless unfolding.

Originally published on 2006-07-17
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