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Show me what I'm missing

I’m one of those people who likes to rearrange my living space on a whim. Sometimes it’s a simple reorganization of cupboard contents, and others it’s a full-blown excavation of an entire room. Occasionally the new placement of furniture is more functional than the previous layout… but most times I merely end up annoying myself and putting it all back in its original position. My husband probably tolerates this “need for a change” because it’s much cheaper than buying new scenery every time PMS occurs (which seems to be the interval at which the need strikes)

This “makeover phenomenon” has occurred most of my adult life, my kid’s bedrooms were subject to it during their childhood, as was the home daycare I operated for 15 years. In my current adult-only residence, reconstructing a room doesn’t require much input (in other words, my husband doesn’t get much say in the matter and if he values his life he won’t interfere with my hormonal interior design attempts) But when I was rearranging children’s living spaces, there was a lot more to consider in regards to safety and functionality. I never consulted with the miniature occupants before starting a project but I learned they will quickly provide proof of any flaws after it’s completed.

I could spend hours carefully arranging, decorating, and accessorizing a space but it would take a child only seconds to expose something I overlooked. I learned to give each new layout a “test run” by turning a child loose in the remodeled area and saying, “Show me what I’m missing.” Without fail, they always did... an exposed electrical outlet, strangulation or choking hazards, access to a heavy item that could topple, or a tiny space perfectly suited for their mischievous escape. I would then have to make further adjustments to the area or be hyper-vigilant about their supervision.

This practice of “show me what I’m missing” has been helpful in other areas of my life, I apply it when polarizing issues arise (like those currently affecting our world.) I’ve conditioned myself to earnestly consider other perspectives before weighing in on something controversial. “Show me what I’m missing” so I can understand our differences and choose to adjust or be vigilant.

Understanding differences doesn’t require that I abandon my own convictions, it helps discern where I need to apply compassion and where not to waste it. It’s easy to engage controversy and take a side based on my own principles, and it’s even easier to default to outrage when someone opposes them. Experience has taught me that public shaming never produced the result I desired, it only served to prevent me from positively influencing someone else. Any changes I’ve made in my own behavior or thought process were due to rational discussion, no one has ever inspired change by insulting me.

This isn’t to say I’ve pioneered a coalition of rational thought, in fact, many people have used this approach… it just took me longer to realize it’s effectiveness in my own life. Social issues may affect and inspire me differently than they do you, and I’ve found an uncompromisable peace in acknowledging and appreciating that fact.

I never became outraged with those toddlers when they pointed out my limited and flawed thought process, I used their viewpoint to make things better for both of us.