Over the weekend, something happened. Something that in the big scheme of life was trivial. Honestly, it really was no big deal. But for me it was real. And it was momentous. Someone close to me did something that hurt me and made me angry. Very angry. So angry that my entire weekend was a wasted blur.
I couldn’t just let it go. I tried to just mentally reset – to say it didn’t matter. I tried to pretend I was strong and that it didn’t hurt. I tried to pretend I was bullet proof. But in the end, I wasn’t. I was hurt, angry, and resentful. And I was actively looking for ways to get back. I couldn’t focus on anything and the anger was ruining my weekend and threatening to do the same to my work week.
I began my Monday morning in this same flow of anger until I listened to New York Times bestseller JJ Virgin as a guest speaker on The School of Greatness podcast. Her words of truth pierced my anger, made me self-reflect, and offered three ways to once again live a positive and creative life.
Here are the three steps she offered:
- Feel all the reasons you are so upset with the person.
For me, this meant writing down my feelings and why I felt that way. In the beginning, I resisted. My Sharpie wouldn’t move. But once I started, each letter I formed became easier.
- Step to their side. Be them for a minute.
This second point was almost a deal breaker for me. Out loud I said: “I’m the one hurt. Why should I care about his side?” But opening my mind to the other person’s reality brought forth compassion. Though I didn’t want to feel it, I couldn’t stop this flow of compassion. This person meant no harm. This person was just doing what made sense to him at the time. There was not motive to hurt. None.
- Look for the gift in the situation. There is always a major gift.
As if the first two action items weren’t hard enough, this third on stung. A gift. Really? But she’s right. Every difficult situation has a gift. You’re not going to grow when everything is happy go lucky.
And here’s a bonus tip: This isn’t a one and done. Forgiveness is a continual process. If something hasn’t come up today, then it will tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then this week. The point is this: you will constantly and actively have to forgive, because anger will destroy your creativity, joy, productivity, and all that’s good and healthy in your life.
Perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr. said it more succinctly:
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”