It’s hard to admit it when we make a mistake. It’s tough to say we’re sorry when we know we’ve screwed up or done someone wrong. We’ve all been there and it takes a certain amount of humility to swallow our pride and own up to our faults. It takes a strong person to be that vulnerable.
The hardest thing of all though is letting go when we know we’re right. When we have a million and one reasons to validate our position, when we’ve got all the evidence to back up our point of view, and the other person is clearly at fault, it takes a lot to give up being right.
That’s what it means to be a bigger person. It means foregoing the opportunity to stick it to someone else for what they’ve done wrong even when we know without a doubt that we’re right. It means letting them off the hook, giving them the benefit of the doubt and practicing forgiveness even when we’ve got them on the ropes.
The fact is that being right doesn’t actually translate into peace of mind or fulfillment. Neither does being angry or upset regardless of how good the reason is. This includes being upset with ourselves when we repeat a mistake or let a situation get the better of us. It’s one thing to acknowledge mistakes and honor our darker emotions and another thing to dwell on them for longer than necessary.
What we often fail to realize is that when someone hurts us, the initial upset is nothing in comparison to the suffering we create for ourselves by holding on to it. We replay the inciting event in our minds over and over again, we build up our case and set out to prove that we’re right to ourselves and others, we raise our guard and vow never to let anyone hurt us again. It can get to be quite exhausting and all it does is prolong the suffering and poison our own pond.
Every time we have an opportunity to engage in a battle of right and wrong and we can be present enough to stay out of it, we expand. Someone cuts you off on the road… instead of honking the horn, cursing or flipping the bird, take a deep breath and feel how much strength it takes to remain calm. That’s growth. Someone says something offensive or takes a cheap shot at you…instead of hitting them with a comeback or laying a beat down with a swift karate chop, stay silent and turn the other cheek. Breathe, feel the anger rising up inside of you and see if you can create space for it rather than fueling the fire. That’s expansion. That’s being the bigger person.
I’m not saying that we should let people abuse us or take advantage of us. What I’m saying is that we have a choice when things go bad to shake it off or take it on. When we take it on, we waste our energy and we give our power away.
True power, true strength lies in moving through the challenges and the conflicts swiftly and not getting bogged down in the small stuff. It means recognizing another person’s weakness and not holding it against them. It means expanding in love instead of contracting in fear in the face of a triggering event or person who’s looking for a fight. Maybe they’re suffering inside. Maybe they’ve had a rough go. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Who knows?
All I know is that being right is a lost cause. Instead, we can invest our energy in worthy causes. We can create with our emotions, we can learn from our experiences and we can be stronger by allowing ourselves to be exposed, by letting our guard down and continuing to love even after we’ve been hurt a thousand times.
Keep giving, keep loving, keep living. Keep growing, keep learning, keep expanding.
That’s what being a bigger person is all about. Who’s in?
Written for The Daily Love (Dec. 19th, 2011)