“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I stood there, all 5 feet 9 inches, looking at the boss who was sitting at his desk. Though he is a small man to begin with and despite the fact that by standing I was towering over him I was feeling no larger than Tom Thumb. He was, unfortunately for me, correct when he said the work was sloppy. I totally agreed with him but in doing so he seemed to get angrier. Apologizing wasn’t helping either, in fact, nothing much of what I said seemed to make a difference.
I could tell you that the mistake was not made by me but that’s irrelevant. Whatever leaves from my desk is my responsibility. I could tell you that the boss was just in a bad mood that day and taking it out on me. But that doesn’t take away the mistake or how I was feeling about the ‘dressing down’ that I had received.
Back at my desk I was trying not to cry. I decided to get lunch instead. I knew in front of others the tears would be held back. As I was preparing lunch one of my co-workers came into the lunchroom and whispered to me, “Isn’t he just Mr. Grumpy Pants today?” Apparently she had gone into the boss’s office after me despite hearing parts of my talk with him, silly girl! Why does any of this matter? And why should you care?
Forgiveness is never about the other person.
On the bus ride home I realized what a great opportunity I had been presented for practicing all that I preach, most recently in the Love With Conviction series (1,2,3). For the full thirty minutes of my ride I held a vision of the boss and I in his office. In that vision I surrounded him with a bubble of forgiveness all the while giving myself Reiki and breathing in love then pouring it into the vision I was holding. By the time I reached my stop I was feeling a sense of peace. For my twenty-five minute walk home I put in my headphones and turned up the volume on my ‘uplifting singing’ playlist. And I sang! I was feeling great when I reached home.
Later that evening my husband and I discussed what had happened. I spoke about it as factually as I could. I wasn’t aware of any ill feeling or anger and my husband later said he felt my disappointment that it had happened but saw no signs of tears or deep hurt from me about the incident. The next morning the boss was in early, unusual for him, and as I went past his office I stopped to say hi. Again, I had no frosty feelings and we had a nice conversation.
Negativity is deeply ingrained.
As the morning passed I had to stop myself several times from going down the road of anger, hurt, and frustration. I remembered a patch of garden that I’d spent hours weeding. There was a very invasive and deep-rooted plant I wanted out. I thought it would never be back given what I removed but a week later I could see signs of it. I went back into the patch and pulled out what I had missed the first time. While the bus ride and walk home had started the process of weeding out the anger and shame that I had been feeling, there was clearly more work to do. Several times through the morning I stopped, inhaled love and exhaled love with the intention of sending it out through the office. Practicing forgiveness and loving with conviction is ongoing, getting easier each time.
We need to learn how to be happy.
I share this because I hope that in doing so someone else will feel encouraged to turn towards forgiveness and love, instead of anger or hate. It’s no fun being chewed out but when we can transcend the negativity of a situation our lives will be much more fulfilling and far, far happier. In the end, no matter what I eat, what the boss says, or how much I exercise it’s up to me to choose and practice happiness. No one can do that for me.
Think about a time when you’ve fumed about a ‘bad’ situation. Would you be willing to view it with new eyes and an open heart today? I hope so.