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Taking Perspective

On a Saturday afternoon, we visited a craft festival that was going on at a local park. One of the first tables we visited was an activity of stringing beads into bracelets. The beads – especially the metallic ones and those with unicorn and rainbow shapes – were being highly regulated by the bracelet table facilitator. Tickets had to be exchanged for a container of assorted beads.

My girls found a spot to work, and with containers of beads in front of them, began making their bracelets. Across from us, two older girls were also making bracelets. I began noticing that the girls across from mine were reaching – brazenly – into my girls’ containers. I inched the containers a little closer to my girls, thinking this might send the message. But no! Once again, these older girls reached into my girls’ containers and took out a few beads to add to their bracelets. I noticed they even got some of the metallic ones. Unbelievable, I thought. The audacity. Where were their parents, anyway? I looked around and saw their mom talking to another parent, blissfully unaware of her daughters’ propensity for thievery.

I reached into the containers and pulled out a few of the special beads, putting them directly in front of my girls. I had decided that if this sort of behavior was going to be going on, at least my girls should be able to incorporate some of the fancy beads in their bracelets before they were all snatched away.

By now, the two older girls had finished their bracelets and were having the table facilitator attach the fasteners around their wrists. I was stunned when these girls boldly reached across the table, grabbed the bead containers and began to walk away. After a moment, they turned around, reached out and placed one rainbow bead and one unicorn bead into my daughters’ hands before prancing off to show their bracelets to their mom. I decided enough was enough and turned around to head toward the mom to have a little discussion.

It was right at that time that the bead-table facilitator looked over at my daughters and said to me, “Oh, I never got your girls their beads. Do you have your tickets?” I glanced down at the table and saw our tickets – all of them – on the table.

Then I looked over at the considerate older girls who had shared their beads – even the most special metallic ones – with my daughters.

It is surprising how often the way we chose to observe and interpret situations distorts everything we see (or don’t see).

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.