Taking Up Space –
I have a friend who has a boss who is a pain! At least that’s how they describe him. He’s often in the staff’s way, interrupting staff’s conversations with co-workers and clients, calling last-minute meetings, forcing staff to take late, early, shortened lunches and breaks. My friend is a good employee and enjoys their job and interaction with the customers but this boss makes the job unbearable at times. I told my friend that this guy doesn’t seem easy to work for but also noticed he was creeping into other conversations and being complained about excessively. “Be careful,’ I said, ‘not to let this guy take up space in your head.”
It’s easy to let other people, things, difficulties, hardships rent a place in our noggin. These are issues we must deal with, live with and are forced to confront. However, if we aren’t careful, aware, they can begin to invade the other parts of our lives. We ruminate, stew, in our negative thoughts and this takes energy and a toll on us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Learning how to deal with problems, finding solutions that help us keep them from encroaching in unwanted areas, takes wisdom, practice and awareness.
“Keep the doors to your mind open. Let problems come and go. Do not serve them tea.”
One of the easiest lessons of wisdom to learn is you are what you repeatedly think or do. One of the hardest wisdom disciplines to practice is thinking and doing good things.
Aristotle said, paraphrased by Will Durant; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” So what we keep thinking and keep doing reveals who we truly are, on the inside. We can say we are kind, loving, grace-giving, but if our thoughts and deeds betray us we must come to the reality of who we are if we desire to change or be at peace through acceptance.
For those like myself who live with depression, one of the cycles we can get into are negative thoughts about ourselves. We relive painful moments, negative events, over and over again. We get stuck with thoughts of how we could be better, how terrible we are, and how little we can offer the world and those closest to us.
Being caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, reliving mistakes and mishaps is called ruminating. For those battling depression the thoughts can literally go on for days, weeks, months. When we are doing well, on a plateau, we can catch ourselves and refuse to hop on these train of thoughts. When we are struggling our thoughts can take us down tracks from which we may never recover.
I like the Zen saying; “You can’t stop negative thoughts from coming but you don’t have to sit and serve them tea.”
Ongoing Grace –
One of the hardest acts in life is letting go of the expectation of an apology from someone who has hurt, offended us. Many times, we never receive what we are tempted to think we deserve.
Not too long ago I received a surprising apology from someone who had hurt me years ago. They asked for forgiveness and I gave it to them. However, apologies can be tricky. When someone expresses regret about an action or harmful words our ability to forgive has much to do with our place on the journey of forgiveness. Saying the words; “I forgive you.” helps but rarely completely, instantly heals the wounds.
Since the apology, there have been moments of pain when I am reminded the wounds are still healing. Times when memories are relived and the urge to fall back into negative thoughts patterns, judgmental attitudes are present. It is here, on our journey, we realize forgiveness is not a one-time act or phrase but a process, an ongoing combination of acts, words, and intent of spirit. There are seasons, moments, instances when the past impresses itself on the present. Wisdom teaches us not to ignore, resent, or seek escape but to let it be a reminder that forgiveness in an ongoing act of grace.