A gift in mistakes
My heart sank as I listened to my husband’s voice on the other end of the phone. Steve had driven to Phoenix for a meeting that I had set up for him. When he arrived, he found that I had given him the wrong information, and the meeting he really wanted to attend was to occur on a different day!
As I listened to him share this information with me, I felt badly. I expected him to say something that revealed his anger and disappointment. He didn’t.
Instead, when he arrived home, he said to me with a smile, “What a gift a mistake can be!“ He then proceeded to show me photos he had taken on the way home from Phoenix. The beautiful sunset had captured him, and he, in turn, immortalized it in a photo album. He obviously derived a great deal of pleasure from sharing the pictures and the experience with me.
Steve told me that, at first, he had wanted to feel indignant and to blame me for the mistake I had made. He had wasted two hours driving down there only to find . . . nothing! And then he faced another two-hour drive home.
At that point, he realized he had a choice in how he viewed the whole event. No matter how he looked at it, the situation itself would not change. Although things didn’t work out as he had originally planned, he decided to look at the circumstance as an opportunity to find the good in it.
So, as Steve left Phoenix, he determined that he would stay in the present moment and enjoy his surroundings. Instead of giving attention to what had gone wrong, he chose thoughts of what was going well. He began to focus on everything for which he could be grateful. In the sweltering Phoenix heat, he felt cool in the air-conditioned car. He had great music to listen to. And he enjoyed a beautiful sky show.
Steve also realized that to let go of any negative feelings he had toward me could only improve our relationship. If he held onto blame, he would make himself miserable, and that attitude would insert a wedge between us.
I felt grateful that, instead, he chose to bring himself into the present moment. He could have dwelt on the past: “If only Marta hadn’t . . .” He also might have focused on the future: “I’m going to make her pay!”
This whole incident reminded me that suffering is optional. How often do we give in to the temptation to make ourselves victims of our circumstances? When we play the victim role, we set ourselves up to feel self-pity and anger. We feel entitled to our drama, as if the upset will remedy the situation.
Entitlement justifies our decision to wallow in the mud of righteous indignation, self-pity and superiority.
As Steve said to me, “It’s a short-sighted way to approach life.”
Thanks to my hubby for being an example of forgiveness and present moment awareness. I thank him, too, for reminding me that where we focus our minds determines how we feel about the events, circumstances, situations and relationships in our lives.
Why wallow when you can soar?
Dr. Marta coaches people in better communication and higher-consciousness living. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (928) 451-9482.