Turning Terrible Moments into Something Positive

clearsource president and co founder Nate Spears

The Power of Empathy is Transformative

Have you ever found yourself being put in a dangerous situation by a complete stranger? If you have, then I’m sure your emotions were all over the place — and not in a good way.

Would you believe me if I told you that these terrible moments can still be turned into something positive? Our ClearSource President and Co-Founder, Nate Spears, did exactly that. Read the story below to find out how Nate handles such a situation in a way that led to a greater sense of peace in his life.

To stay happy and healthy, I love long-distance cycling and trail running. I used to be a member of a cycling club in Salt Lake City. We would take 100-mile rides together every weekend throughout the summer.

During one of these rides, I had become separated from the group after about 75 miles. I was alone, riding down a hot and lonely highway out in the middle of nowhere.

A Flash of Danger

Lost in my thoughts, I suddenly heard a car approaching from behind. I could tell it was going very fast. I tensed up and moved over to the side of the road—as far as I could safely go— to stay out of the way of this fast-approaching vehicle.

When the speeding car passed, it was so close to me that if I had put my arm out the car would’ve hit it. I was terrified. I realized that this reckless act was intentional because they sprayed windshield wiper fluid on me as they passed.

My first reaction of intense fear was immediately replaced by rage. I hadn’t done anything to them! They could have easily passed at a safe distance as there was no oncoming traffic. They did it on purpose! I imagined how I would hurt them if I had the chance.

Soon, the driver of that car was gone. They had no idea who I was, and they were never going to see me again. Whether I was angry or happy made no difference to them. It only mattered to me. I was left to carry the burden of my own hatred.

Hatred Comes Easy

With disgust, and to no one in particular, I started saying, “What kind of a person would do something like this?!”

As that question kept repeating in my mind, I had an important realization: the kind of person who would carelessly endanger the life of another human being must have been treated like garbage. I started to imagine what their life must have been like. Maybe they had terrible parents. Maybe nobody cared for them.

At that moment my anger melted away. I began to feel intense gratitude for my life, that I had been blessed with so much. I didn’t want to trade places with that person for the world.

Forgiveness is Hard

I then set that heavy burden of hateful feelings down on the side of the road, and I just kept on going. What replaced the anger was first sympathy, and then empathy. By letting go of that weight and not carrying it around anymore, I felt different. Forgiveness isn’t for the people that hurt us. It’s for us. It’s for our own joy and happiness.

We have opportunities like this every day. The moment you feel someone is taking advantage of you, or trying to hurt you in some way, that’s your opportunity to become alive to and interested in their objectives, challenges, and needs. Are they hurting? What’s in it for them to cause you pain?

If, with curiosity, you’re able to look for the positive intention that drives the actions of others, this new understanding will increase the capacity for peace and happiness in your own life.

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