Benefit of the Doubt

Among the people closest to you, how many can you say truly have your best interest at heart?

Just one person? Two, four, more? Whatever the answer, reflect upon how often these very same people push your buttons, causing you to contract and react. Be honest – it happens to all of us, all the time.

With these special individuals, however, we have a choice. We can give them the benefit of the doubt.

Whenever you become aware that your buttons have been pushed, focus on the fact that the offending parties mean no harm. Perhaps they acted carelessly, or spoke harshly. Maybe a flash of anger or irritation high-jacked their communication skills. Yes, it stings. Yet this occurred out of human imperfection, not ill will.

You can’t say this in every case, because people often do mean us harm. But with those in your sacred circle, you know, for sure, that they don’t. And reflecting on this knowledge changes everything.

Why? Because it allows your primitive brain to relax. Its threat response system can safely stand down. Without the benefit of the doubt, it may take hours, even days, before you can come back to a place of presence and trust. With it, the whole thing usually happens in a matter of moments. From there, you and your counterpart can clear the air quickly, efficiently, and compassionately.

For me, this technique works wonders. Let me know if it does the same for you.

About Raphael Cushnir

Raphael Cushnir is a popular contributor to O, The Oprah Magazine. He has also been a teacher, activist, screenwriter, and film director. His own heart was rekindled after a period of profound grief. His first book, Unconditional Bliss: Finding Happiness in the Face of Hardship, was twice nominated as Best Personal Growth title of the year and introduced the "Living the Questions" process. His second book, Setting Your Heart on Fire: Seven Invitations to Liberate Your Life, is used as a teaching tool in churches and spiritual centers around the country. His third book, How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment, was named one of the "Best Spiritual Books of 2005" by Spirituality and Health magazine. Raphael shares his work in talks and workshops worldwide. For more info:;;;
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2 Responses to Benefit of the Doubt

  1. I know for sure trust is the key to any relationship. If I feel I can truly trust someone I am able to use this kind of response.
    Thanks for the post.

  2. Bevi Gill says:

    It has become a somewhat different perspective for me. Knowing the universe loves and supports me, those “biting” moments can become nourishment for growth, illustrating where I am and what transformative work is available in that moment. And this could be personal deep innerwork or an opportunity to answer love to someone’s attention-needing inner child.

    I also now recognize that sometimes my energy has been the invisible thorn pricking the situation into being.
    In peace,

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