The Green Sheet Online Edition
May 25, 2009 • Issue 09:05:02
May the forgiving force be with you
||To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.|
– Lewis B. Smedes
You're sitting by the pool, relaxing after a long day of calling on merchants, answering e-mails and placing phone calls. Overall, it was a good day. You even signed a merchant agreement with a regional chain store.
But your knuckles turn white as you clench a glass of iced tea. You take a sip. It tastes bitter. You put the glass down and clench your jaw at the sound of children playing in your neighbor's yard. What happened to your serenity?
Was it the merchant level salesperson (MLS) who stole one of your accounts yesterday? How about the merchant who berated you as he shooed you out the door because he'd been burned long ago by an MLS with few scruples? Did these folks steal your peace of mind?
Hardly. They didn't steal your tranquility. If anything, you allowed them to take it.
Or maybe you aren't trying to pin your dissatisfaction on someone else. Perhaps you've been beating yourself up because you delayed returning the call of a merchant who needed your immediate help with a malfunctioning POS system, and your relationship suffered accordingly.
Or maybe you went drinking with colleagues before you made your quota of sales calls last week and have fallen further behind in prospecting ever since.
What's really in your craw?
Whatever the reason, there you are. Stewing. You have all the creature comforts you could ask for, and you're not enjoying them. What gives? It could be a lack of forgiveness.
For many of us, it is difficult to forgive because we are prideful, emotional beings. When someone apologizes to you, do you sometimes say, "Don't worry about it," yet fume the rest of the day?
If so, you're not alone. But if the person who wronged you already apologized, why do you continue to grouse? Maybe it's because you haven't actually forgiven anyone.
It could be you sensed the apology wasn't heartfelt. But forgiveness is only partially about the person who misbehaved. It's primarily about you.
And you can't force anyone to make you feel better. Attempting to do so only leads to resentment.
And left unchecked, resentment festers; it pervades all aspects of your life; it harms your health and all of your relationships. It can turn you into a veritable Scrooge.
Rather than internally rehashing a transgression and dwelling on someone who has wounded you, try analyzing your reaction to what occurred. Perhaps there's a reason why it affected you so deeply.
Ask yourself the following:
- Were you upset about something else before the incident occurred?
- Are you taking an impersonal attack personally?
- Did the person involved unwittingly push one of your hot buttons?
- Are you really angry with yourself but not facing it?
Reflect upon your answers and remember that taking offense is a choice. So is forgiveness.
How do you let go?
Forgiveness isn't just saying the right words. True forgiveness requires a change of perspective, a release of negative feelings. Occasionally, a situation requires a rebuke. But you can set someone straight from a place of kinship and kindness.
But how do you make forgiveness real? Next time you are in a situation that calls for a change of heart, try one or more of the following to set your compassionate side free.
_ Remember that you make mistakes, too. Think of a time when you committed a similar thoughtless act. Like you, the offender could be a decent person who makes an occasional error in judgment.
- Check yourself. Looking at your own issues may diffuse your resentment toward the other person involved.
- Allow for moodiness. The person who wronged you might have had a horrific day. Maybe the offender was battling a headache, low blood-sugar or had just suffered an attack on another front.
- Consider the source. Some people who lash out at others are chronically unhappy. They shuffle through life sharing their misery with everyone they encounter. Be grateful you do not suffer their plight. Try to lighten their spirits rather than let them dampen yours.
- Meditate. This can clear the mind of useless, negative thoughts and make room for empathy.
- Exercise. This refocuses energy and enhances mental clarity. And it releases endorphins, which elevate one's sense of overall well-being.
- Use a mantra. Think of the individual you want to forgive, and repeat "I forgive you" to yourself until you mean it. Think of it as biofeedback for the soul.
Whatever method you use, if you make an honest effort to forgive, your inner peace will return. You'll have time to reflect contentedly on positive aspects of your life, have healthier relationships and enjoy that iced tea by the pool.
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