Is there someone that you wish you never met?
Early this week I noted one of my connection on social media who woke up to a series of posts. Though no specific person was targeted you could sense anger, betrayal and bitterness. Whether that was the best way to express herself or not is debatable. In every situation there are many sides and different options.
My concern however is how we stay stuck on an experience or encounter with someone that we feel did not treat us right. I do not mean to excuse anyone for substandard behavior. I however subscribe to the notion that you should never take poison on behalf of someone else and expect them to die. As you rage in bitterness and slow down your day or life the other person maybe having a party of their life.
Did you read my last blog titled ‘You are Enough’? If not, you might need to start from there. Looking at the three people I encountered in that article, they were emotionally living at the mercy of someone else. Their value and worth had been stepped on by either a school mate, a teacher, a boss or a spouse. If we traced either of these people today including a current spouse, they might not be aware of the effects of their actions. Even if they are intentionally belittling or intimidating the ‘victims’ they are not fully responsible for the effect or reaction of the ‘victim’.
Every time we encounter someone in life we chose how to interpret and perceive that interaction. It is not what they do it is how we respond to what they do. We owe ourselves peace and sanity in every situation. We need to always guard our self-worth and value in all situations. A destruction of self-worth leads to helplessness and mediocrity. We tend to justify that status because we were genuinely hurt. However, throwing yourself in a pity party does not earn you anything. Stepping up however builds your confidence and makes you admirable by those around you.
As I was thinking through my encounter with the persons in my last blog, I remembered a certain nugget of wisdom. A while back I came across a strategy of positively releasing the people who come into your life and who you may think affected you negatively. Note that the notion that they affected you negatively is just a perception. There is always a positive side in every story or like we say, there is something positive in everyone and everything if look through hard enough. This strategy however works if you start by believing in the positive. In Patrice Washington’s words “believe that things happen for you not to you.”
The wisdom I collected stated that for every person you have closely encountered; workmates, bosses, employers, friends, partners, spouses, family members…always ask yourself was the relationship life giving or purposeful. In both cases the answer is positive. The essence of this exercise is to make you examine all your encounters with people from a positive angle. It is meant to help you not to dwell on the loss but focus on the lessons. The beauty of this positive outlook is that apart from giving you positive answers, it removes any bitterness or resentment, gives you a chance to ‘celebrate’ people, gives you closure and does not create enmity.
What exactly does it mean to have a life giving or purposeful encounter? There are people that you meet that give you so much life you wonder where you have been all along. They are the friends you will travel with to places, party with, catch the latest movies with and literally have a life or a moment. They are the colleagues you will hang out with every lunch, catch coffee on Fridays, hike on weekends, visit each other on Sundays. In short, they are the people you have a blast with; moments that make you super happy, make you glow and literally live. They give you energy to try new things even without saying it. You rediscover yourself or discover a positive, glorious side of you that you never thought of. They are life giving; full of energy and passion.
On the other hand, there are people that you will encounter who will not give you a blast. They will give your life a shift and a different focus. These encounters can be quite turbulent. It could be that tough boss that forces you to step up, that ‘nonpalatable’ employer who pushes you to your next phase of life, that partner that wants you to step up and become a better person, that partner that turns you into a parent when you thought you were not ready for it, that abusive partner that makes you realize your worth, that focused and disciplined friend that makes you step up to your goals or that parent, family member, colleague or boss who does not measure up to your expectations and you promise yourself to never be that person.
Every relationship/encounter can fit in either or both of these categories. So next time before you jump to social media or to your friends to rant about your latest encounter with a mean, selfish friend, colleague, employer, partner or acquaintance, ask yourself what life did the encounter/relationship give me? What purpose did it serve? If you think hard enough you will find an answer. Then walk back with a smile, head held high, give them a hug and thank them for the purpose that they served or the life that they gave you.
Does either of the relationship have to end? No. But you need to accept that it may take a different path. The energy may not be always there, the purpose may have been that you have a defining moment together, give each other children or do business together and now you need to evolve to checking on each other, supporting each other and cheering each other. If it’s meant to be a lifetime, then you will walk together and bury each other.
If the encounter may cost you your peace then move on to your breathtaking future. When it is complete accept that it is complete because it did what it was meant to do. Like we say in any relationship do not let your Next pay for your Ex. Do not carry the bitterness and fear from your Ex employer, ex friend, ex-partner, ex life and let it affect the relationship with your Next employer, next friend, next partner or next life.
No relationship/encounter is a waste of time, it has a reason, something that you can learn or something that you gain. But remember in the words of John Maxwell, “If you don’t have peace, it is not because someone took it from you; you gave it away.”
Wisdom entails looking for peace even where it cannot be found; learn to find peace under pressure.