Welcome back to Wisdom Wednesday!
Last week we briefly discussed mindfulness. Mindfulness is about learning to pay attention. It’s about paying attention to what goes on around us and to how we choose to respond … Remembering that we have the ability to choose a thoughtful response rather than a knee-jerk reaction.
I promised to share a story about mindfulness… So here it is…
I worked for the same employer for over 18 years. About five years in to this job, a new person was hired. Let’s call her Ellie (not her real name). Ellie and I were very close in age and hit it off right away. We were immediate friends… Until we weren’t.
At some point, the dynamics between us shifted. We went from being friends to antagonizing the crap out of each other. The actual details don’t really matter. Let’s just say that we were equally skilled at driving each other crazy. This went on and off for a couple of years. There were many days when I went home furious and blaming her.
I had been a very serious student of metaphysics and alternative spirituality. And I really believed that this was some kind of a lesson for me. I believed then, as I do now, that the universe gets your attention by making you uncomfortable… When you learn the lesson, the discomfort goes away. This has happened many times throughout my life.
So one day, when I was particularly annoyed with Ellie, I went home and was determined to figure out what the lesson was in all of this discomfort. I told myself that I was going to sit down on the couch and meditate and I was not going to get up until I had figured things out. And that’s exactly what I did…
I went into deep meditation. I forced myself to look deeply at Ellie. And then I forced myself to look deeply within. And here’s what I realized… Everything about her that made me crazy, everything about her that I disliked… All of that, all of those qualities… Were the same things and the same qualities that I hated within myself. I realized that she was being my mirror. She was showing what I hated about myself!
I was pretty stunned. And then I felt like a jerk. I felt like I should have done better. I felt like I should have realized this sooner and I should not have reacted the way that I did. I should have been able to see this and responded more thoughtfully to the entire situation. But then I also realized that “should haves” are a waste of time. All I could do was commit to doing better going forward. I couldn’t change the past. So that afternoon, sitting on my couch, I decided to be more mindful of the entire situation.
The next day I went to work. I asked her if we could have a conversation and she agreed. I gave her the Cliff Notes version of the above. And I apologized to her. I apologized for being reactive. I apologized for my part in our ongoing difficulties. And I promised her that I would try to do better going forward. I promised her that I would work very hard at being mindful in my responses rather than being reactive.
After that conversation, everything changed. The universe put that long time stumbling block in my path until I learned my lesson. It took me probably three years to figure it out. But once I did, the stumbling block/lesson went away. Ellie ended up accepting a new job that she was much happier in. And we have been able to remain friends. We don’t interact frequently. But, when we have, I have truly enjoyed her energy. Mindfulness, in this situation, saved my sanity…
This story stays with me… it comes to mind frequently and helps me to remember that only I can choose how I feel and how I respond to things. I can be reactive and miserable or I can be mindful and, therefore, more peaceful. It’s all entirely my choice.
So if any of this story resonates with you, I would invite you to look at your current challenges with mindfulness. What might these challenges be trying to teach you? How could you respond more thoughtfully? How could you change your perceptions so that you could have more peace?
Please feel free to share any thoughts below.
I’m glad you’re here💜