Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's called the high road

...take it whenever you can.
On a Friday afternoon at the beginning of November last year, I had a brief conversation with a coworker. He made a not-so-nice comment to me that I took offense to, and I told him so. He was condescending, I was indignant, and two wrongs never make a right. He hasn't spoken to me since.


Knowing the person I was dealing with and not wanting to stir the pot anymore than it already had been, the following Monday I presented myself as cordial. I didn't like what had happened between us, but it just wasn't a weight I wanted to carry so I did my best to let it go.

I was surprised when I greeted him with "good morning" and he glared at me. As the weeks (and months) progressed, I would pass him in the hallway and say hello and he would barely grunt. My office is in the front of the building, and instead of coming in the front door as he'd always done, he started using the back entrance (I assume) in order to not have to see me. Ah! It made me so sad!!!

And I felt really stuck in the storyline. I shed a lot of tears over it. I felt really hurt that he was so angry with me over something so insignificant. His behavior toward me after the incident felt unwarranted considering the "crime" and, in my quest to feel validated I told the story to several people (friends and family and a few coworkers). I repeated and relived our conversation so many times in my mind. That simple little 15-second conversation morphed into hours of angst because I couldn't wouldn't let it go.




Back when I was teaching kid's yoga I wanted to bring in an element of mindfulness and meditation into their practice, so every week I would lead my students in a loving-kindness-meditation. I would say a sentence, and they would repeat it back to me. We started with love for Self {"May I be strong and healthy..."}, then we would repeat those the same phrases for someone we love and finally, for someone we didn't love so much.

"May you be strong and healthy."
"May you be happy."
"May you be peaceful."

I really wanted to find a way to stop ruminating over what had happened so I decided to employ this meditation for my coworker. In typical Me form, I wrote the words on a sticky note and put it in my day planner. Every time I came across the note (or found myself obsessing over it in my mind), I would stop what I was doing, take a slow deep breath and say those words for my co-worker - returning to the meditation in order to release the situation. I'll admit that it was a little difficult at first - I had started to feel so bitter! But it didn't take much time before I noticed a softening. I really and truly meant those words for him.


It's been two weeks since I started repeating this meditation for my co-worker. I saw him yesterday and said, "Hi _____!" and he barely said, "hi" without turning to look at me. And the interesting thing is, I didn't feel as hurt or angry toward him as before. I actually felt deep compassion for him and a sense of really wishing him to be strong, healthy, happy and peaceful.

I have a few ideas about why our seemingly simple conversation bothered him so much, yet I may never really know the depth of the hurt that he carries. In the meantime, I'll continue to be the one who acknowledges him when we awkwardly find ourselves in the lunch room at the same time, and for sure I will keep reciting the loving-kindness-meditation for him several times a day.

I honestly do want him to be strong and healthy and happy and peaceful.
It's called the high road ~ take it whenever you can.

15 comments:

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

PS: This was a tough post to write, and I'll tell you that I've written it and deleted it a few times before actually publishing this today. There's obviously more to the story than I care to tell in a blog post, and I do realize all the implications of my own responsibilities in this. My coworker's behavior is a mirror to myself. His arrogance and the lack of apology are unattractive traits I see in myself so I struggle with that part too. The entire point of this post is that holding space for him by way of a loving-kindness-meditation has helped me tremendously in being able to feel peace myself, and I really hope that in time he will soften too.

Jane said...

I feel this is a good lesson for me to learn, I spend far too many hours going over just that sort of conversation in my mind and I'm the only one that suffers. Will be thinking of your words in the future.

Patio Postcards said...

WOW - bang on again Deb. This is quite a meaty post. I can appreciate all that you are feeling & thank you for sharing. I have used that mantra of sending positive energy to someone & I too have found it helpful. What I do not like is that I have to keep coming back to it - this letting go of things is a very hard lesson (for me to learn). Thanks for your encouragement. While you practice letting go, remember that he is choosing to hang on to it & this is not yours, he has his own lessons/journey to walk. Oh relationships! why are they so hard !?!?! I am sending you energy of peace, well being, joy & calm.

PS - I read a book called the Magic of Forgiveness by Tian Dayton - it was very revealing & helpful for me in my journey.

debs14 said...

I hate to think that some thoughtless words from someone from months ago is still upsetting you. It sounds like he has a real problem deep inside if he would rather go out of his way to avoid you than to pass the time of day. I guess that we never know what is going on in someone else's life when they react in a confusing manner, and I'm guessing that he has a lot of anger and/or sadness going on outside of the workplace.
I'm not very good at forgiving people who upset me I'm afraid and I know what you mean about going over and over something - it's hard not to do when you're confused why someone said what they did. I hope that someday soon he realises that life really is too short to hold that type of a grudge for too long.

Ruth said...

My Mum said that the way to deal with people who upset you was to "heaps blessings upon them" ... sounds to me that you're heading in the right direction. No hiding that it's a difficult thing to do, though.

Lady Ella said...

Sending hugs and massive respect to you for trying so hard to move past this. These situations are so hard. Even smiling and greeting him can't have been easy in the first place, and to continue trying despite being blanked takes courage and a big heart. I know I would have run away from it by now, and TBH his reaction sounds childish/bullying, completely unacceptable for the workplace. Great that you are on the path to dealing with it so it doesn't eat away at you. The only other option I might consider is addressing the matter directly with him - but I realise that discussion might not be easy and might not work. I will remember your story Deb!

lifebehindthepurpledoor said...

you know how sometimes you slide past over a blog post, and sometimes you just click through and actually read it? well, this was one of those posts that I just had to read, and I was right... taking the high road is something that could really help me with a certain teenager at the moment! thanks for sharing this little piece of you.

alexa said...

Honest and inspiring, and definitely a path worth taking. Hard to walk along though at times, but it's lovely to hear the benefits for you too. A great lesson for us all ...

Audrey said...

I have often been called The Queen of Grudges and there is no doubt it's true. I can hold a grudge like nobody's business. I can't say that I like this about myself but it's just the way I roll. While I love the idea of this, and I know I will come back to this post time and again to be inspired by it, I wonder how successful I will be. Only time will tell! I hope I don't have to test it out anytime soon. HA! XOXOXO, Audrey

tainted with a positive view said...

What an honest and compelling story to share - not always an easy task to do. I worked with someone years ago that whenever we had words, I always wondered how long it would go on. I was the "sheepish" one when it came to subsequent conversations. She never let that happen. She always moved forward as if it had never happened. I so appreciated that about her and learned a great deal from her. I try to practice what she taught me.

Connie said...

Thank you for writing this post ~ it is truly a step in the direction of forgiveness and self realization. Positive that most people who are in the workforce have had a similar experience at one time or another, as I have, gives us permission to let it go and let it be. So freeing! Love you..

Becky said...

A great lesson for everyone and one my daughter has learned recently through therapy she has been having and she is in a much better place now because of it.

Susanne said...

Glad you found a way to make the situation better for both your sakes. And a pat on the back for writing and sharing the post.

Beverly said...

I have often been told that if there is someone that has hurt me or angered me or I really just can't stand because of the way they treat people (shhhhh there really are a few out there) that I should pray for them. That if you pray for someone over a long period of time, it is impossible to feel negatively towards them. I think we soften and allow ourselves to see where things may come from. Your mantra sounds like it works that way. You are an incredible woman, Deb and you remind me often to strive to be a better person.

Cheri said...

I'm not even sure what prompted me to click over to your blog today, but some force of the Universe brought me here. And reading this post I knew EXACTLY how you felt. I felt the same confusion and angst roughly two and a half years ago (I can't believe it's been that long!) when I apparently offended someone enough to have that person cut off a friendship with me, without ever knowing just what I had done or said that was so wrong. And I replayed things in my mind incessantly for months, trying to figure it out. And I did the same loving kindness meditation, offering up warm thoughts for that person. And six months after the rift, I performed a ritual letting go ceremony to release the hurt and angst I was feeling. I hadn't thought about it for a long time. Your post today brought it all rushing back. Somewhere, deep down, I'd still love to know where it all went so wrong. I hope it all works out for you and that you and your co-worker can eventually come to terms. Wishing you all the best!

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