This developmental activity is a must for every leader! Reflect on your past and choose two to three rocky interpersonal relationships — preferably related to work (i.e., relationship with a boss or co-worker, a stolen idea, a failed project, a difficult employee), but certainly worth considering outside of work as well (i.e., longtime friends, relatives, ex-husband/wife).
Review, in your own mind, the scenario leading up to the split. What factors led to your interpersonal distancing, the process of disengaging, of relationship decay? Is there anything about the embattered relationship which has enough value in it to continue to produce occasional interactions, if any? In what ways do you choose to avoid contact?
Describe the reasons behind the deterioration. What’s in it for you to continue to value relationship desolation over relationship repair? How do you feel about your own ability to manage disagreement/conflict?
Study the rift. Analyze it. Place it under your intellectual and emotional microscope. Examine every bruise, each angry salvo, every tear, each decision to perpetuate the adversary relationship.
We searched our files for stories on forgiveness ~ and there are plenty of them, all demonstrating the incredible depth of the human spirit to forgive in extreme circumstances. But in our heart of hearts we want you to connect with your own story.
We believe most of us have too many subtle hurts ~ the little irritants that build up inside us ~ the molehills we turn into mountains in our soul, blocking out the light of our spirit.
For example: the neighbor who lets their dog leave unwanted “gifts” on your lawn; the boss who gives you an unfair evaluation or passes you over for a promotion; the coworker who claims credit for your idea; the employee who “skip-levels” to your boss with exaggerated claims of mistreatment; the people whose thoughtless remarks gash a hole in your heart; that person whom you considered a friend that de-friended you from Facebook (okay, maybe not that one!).
And then there are those memories we hold on to ~ things from our upbringing, our past ~ that fester and boil within us. These are the things that, if we allow, will build up resentments that become bitter tastes in our life.
Forgiving someone ~ or asking someone for forgiveness ~ is an extraordinary human act of courage, compassion, and surrender. And yet it is something we must do for our own good … for our own sanity … for our own peace of mind.
What does the Research Say: Researchers at the Mayo Clinic report that harboring negative feelings and thoughts … holding a grudge … contributes to heart disease, increased blood pressure, muscle tension, and other ailments — and it can trigger mental health problems as well (i.e., depression and addictive behaviors).
Forgiveness frees us from the past and keeps feelings of revenge, resentment, and anger from eating at us, from cannibalizing us, from leading to health challenges … from blocking our ability to think creatively, to lead others fairly and compassionately.
What if we could create a habit of forgiveness ? Just imagine ~ not merely moving from ‘bitter to better,’ but bypassing bitter altogether!
Here is our 3-R Formula to help you, as a leader, move from bitter to better, and as a result, enhance your leadership abilities and improve your life! Are you ready for action? Here goes:
RECOGNIZE IT: You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken! Every day, do an “emotional scan” to discover any thoughts you are harboring that run counter to your Core Essence — the Extraordinary You that truly is you at your best. Own the thought, because you need to own it before you can deal with it. Recognize the feeling within you, and move beyond the rationalizations and justifications, and see it for what it is: an attitude, belief, or memory that is holding you captive.
RELEASE IT: Let us be clear, we are not asking you to forget it. That is unrealistic. However, we CAN forgive and release. This is the power of a choice you make! Put it into words: I forgive you, (name) and release you to be the best you can be! You may even want to write that statement down several times, until you actually believe it. You may need to perform a symbolic act of release: write it out and bury it or burn it; write a letter and shred it.
Release does not mean you condone the act, nor that you have to be the person’s friend. It has nothing to do with whether they even accept your forgiveness or even if you tell them. It simply means you release the attachment you have to what has happened.
REFRAME YOUR THINKING: From this point on, when you find a resentment or anger beginning to build, deal with it immediately. One way to reframe is this: As soon as you hear yourself make a judgment, such as “He should not have treated me that way” immediately follow up with the words, “… and I …” then complete with a positive statement of action, such as “…and I choose to let it go,” “She shouldn’t have criticized me in public, and I forgive her and wish only the best for her.” “My manager should have prepared me for that meeting, and I know he is doing the best he can with what he knows. I let it go, and find other people to mentor me.”
This formula brings you back to a focus of your power to choose your reaction. No one has power over you unless you choose to give it to them!
As you move from Bitter to Better, you release a past that is holding you hostage, and free yourself to be a better leader … as well as a more fulfilled person, as you connect with The Extraordinary You!