I first came across this term in my early childhood while watching a cricket match. I had just been bit by the cricket bug and was very eager to understand the various terminologies associated with the game. Obviously, my ignorance of the same was reason of amusement for my cricket crazy brothers. Hat trick is, I was told by them, the umpire fishing out something from his hat for the player with 3 wickets. And maiden over is a girl coming out to bowl. Every time the commentators mentioned a maiden over I used to wonder, “when did the girl come and go and how come I didn’t see her and everyone else did??”
After having pulled my leg left and right, they gave me the correct explanations. On one such day, the term benefit of doubt came to my ears and there was something about the way it sounds which intrigued me. They told me, if there is situation when the umpire is not able to decide whether the batsman is out or not, then he gives the decision in the favor of the batsman thinking that maybe he just made it or missed it (depending on the situation) giving him the benefit of his doubt. Ahhhhhhh!!!! Such a nice thing!!!!! Something inside me was very happy about learning this new phrase. I was totally taken over by it. At that time I was too naive to understand that what is making me relate to this phrase is actually my own nature and slowly, slowly, it became dominant trait in me.
Benefit of doubt in our everyday life means giving things a second chance, assuming that something must have missed my eyes and is an important link in the chain of the unfavorable events. Because I give people a benefit of doubt, I found myself swallowing my anger and frustration effortlessly. It made me very patient and tolerant and helped me deal with a lot of stressful and not so stressful events in my life with much ease. Like,
The teacher told me to get her water and later scolded me for taking so long. But I wasn’t upset about it because I gave her the benefit of doubt. Maybe she is very tired, maybe she got it from the principal, maybe……
Someone has left the lift open at the 5th floor, maybe he/she had his/her hands full and thought let me keep the stuff first and then I will close it. But then he/she forgot. Just maybe…
A car is honking like mad behind me, maybe he/she has an emergency to attend and is running very late. Maybe…..
I have seen simple situations like these acting as triggers to set off one’s anger. My husband, manish kedia, would react just the opposite in the same situations. He can’t bear it if someone honks him and thinks it’s okay for him to honk uncontrollably while driving and no one should mind. He doesn’t approve of my benefit of doubt theory. He often tells me,”you never think someone else could also be wrong and always ask me to calm down”. My reply is, ” if it wasn’t my nature to give others a benefit of doubt, I would have had a million fights with you over a zillion petty issues, like your continuous honking, you forgot to bring a cake on my bday, you took me to an absolutely shabby dhaba for valentines, you didn’t let me choose a green kitchen over your favourite red, you don’t lower the tv volume when I am sleeping, and so on…..” Ok. That stops the honking for a few minutes. And I don’t mean the car here. I know he must have said a silent prayer for being given a second chance!!!
Giving other’s a benefit of doubt is often mistaken with having a casual approach and not taking things seriously. Like my husband tells me,”you are too soft with everyone and they often take advantage of your soft nature.” Honestly, I am aware of this. I know that people know that I would give them a second chance and often give me excuses and lies. As long as it doesn’t have any harsh repercussions, I let go. And more often than not, they have eventually walked up to me and told me the truth themself. Their own guilt makes them do it.
As for me, I am in a happy zone with my ability to give the benefit of doubt. Will my husband approve?? Maybe, just maybe…….