In a recent post, I wrote about forgiveness. I am a trained mediator, counselor and life coach–and I am far from perfect. Today I am in need of forgiveness. A magnet on my fridge reads, “I am still learning” and still learning I am! An experience from this morning reminds me of how I can better respond, not react, to someone in distress and call in needed forgiveness.

Below is my own interpersonal blooper, an “oopsie” communication mishap that did not go well with subsequent thoughts of how I could have handled myself better. I am sharing this personal experience as a practice in being vulnerable, deeply honest and to provide a forum for a rich discussion. I know we can all relate and perhaps together we can bring more light into ourselves, each other and thus the world.

First, I pose these questions to you, dear reader, because I am sincerely curious. How do you handle being verbally attacked by someone without provocation? How often are you able to be kind and firm and be on your way without getting hooked or re-triggered? If you do get triggered, what works for you to not escalate the situation? What is an interpersonal blooper you may care to share with us and how did it resolve (or not)?

This morning I had an surprise conflict with a neighbor. Because I could see that she was upset and obviously triggered, I held my ground and asked her to refrain from speaking about what was on her mind until the storm passed and we could talk. She kept spouting off in a hostile way as I was on my way to my car, so I told her I would be open to mediation. My boundary seemed to only upset her more and she escalated. It was at this point that I escalated too and I said something that I now regret.

With this still unresolved, I am left with ruminating on how indeed I could have de-escalated the situation (as I am professionally trained to do), but I was caught off guard and was en route to a meeting when this attack came out of the blue.

I have always done my best to take the high road with this person and finally, my frustrations with her blew the lid off in reaction to her projected accusations. I was actually walking away from the toxicity when I allowed her vitriol to get the best of me.

I am now doing my best not to berate myself–and to have compassion for both of us. I do not look forward to the next leg of this journey but because we both live in close proximity to one another. That said, I feel it is imperative that we communicate in a safe space such as mediation which my community can provide.

I see that what transpired between two dear (and wounded) beings today as another growth opportunity to shine lightness in dark places, to be gentle and forgiving with myself and to carry this learning, wisdom and healing forward to all my future relations and challenges therein.

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Today I choose to incorporate the ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness called Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono). The simplified version which is becoming more popular in the West is to repeat this mantra, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you”.