When we go through life with a forgiving attitude, we develop a courteous heart. To some, a courteous heart may appear detached because it does not interfere with the character of others. This is not so. A courteous heart feels no need to criticize, regulate, or improve another. It does not search for a reason to make others feel guilty. It does not say: Why did you do that? Or, you made me feel bad. A courteous heart simply looks at a person or situation with something very special: discernment versus judgment.
It is vital that we to go through life with a forgiving attitude, forgiving the big infractions and the small. We need to adopt the technique and spiritual attitude of forgiving people and circumstances to live in the moment, and stay in the now. When we obsess about the past or worry about the future, our vital energy is depleted and chasing that big juicy opportunity, without guarantee of success, will seem like too much work.
To live in judgment means is to observe a person doing or saying something, and declare that person to be wrong, mean, unpleasant, evil, etc. Discernment, on the other hand, means to simply observe the behavior with an open mind. To think instead: This is what I see, hear, and feel. Conversely, a judgment is expressed as a statement of fact: he or she is doing or saying something which I believe to be wrong, and because of that behavior, he/she is therefor mean, evil, and untrustworthy.
A courteous heart is one who knows to judge is to limit its ability to learn. More than anything, the courteous heart wants to be open to all experiences and the gifts of others. A courteous heart knows that it cannot learn from someone whom it judges to be less than itself. The questions asked from a courteous heart are always answered.
This does not mean that in embracing a courteous heart you will tolerate the intolerable or accept the unacceptable. Rather, it means that you will choose to change what you can and let go of, and forgive, the rest. If someone is confrontational, and you feel uncomfortable and want to retaliate, contain your emotions with this mantra: Bless them and improve me. This will help to release your own stress and free you from the limitations that accompany feelings of judgment. You may even admit to yourself that you, too, are imperfect and in need of the help and blessings of others.
Adopting a forgiving attitude will free you and give you more energy to focus on the important things in your life. It also has the additional benefit of freeing others from the unhealthy obligation of feeling accountable to you. When you are without judgement you are really giving others permission to present themselves to you just as they are, and as they are not, in that moment – a work in progress.
Adopting a completely forgiving attitude does not mean you do not have boundaries – in fact, quite the reverse is true! However, when you do create a boundary, it is important that it is elegant instead of defensive. Boundaries should be about the person’s behavior, not an attack on the person. When you cannot separate the person from the behavior, you lose your power.
Without knowing your boundaries, others may offend you with their words or their actions. If you have not taken the time to consistently identify or clarify your boundaries it is not they who are responsible. However, once you have educated them, should their offensive behavior continue, you will have to decide about whether or not to remain in contact.
When we have been in a relationship with someone for an extended period, without healthy boundaries, we have essentially taught them how to behave and treat us. Such patterns will not be abandoned without resistance on their part. Your persistence in maintaining elegant boundaries however will eventually prevail, until they are both recognized and respected.
It is vital not to give in to feelings of anger when establishing new boundaries because when you become angry you effectively move from creating a boundary to building a defense. Typically, a defensive posture only stimulates more defenses, and attack is then met with attack. Notice how well skilled our world powers are at attack and counter attack.
So this holiday season, and indeed all year round, give yourself the gift of a forgiving attitude fueled by a courteous heart, and I promise you will become more spiritually elegant. A person who is spiritually elegant does not defend or justify their current knowledge and skills, nor do they feel snobbish or superior. Instead, in business and in life, they can learn from everyone and everything, and when there is an issue to be resolved, it is discussed with a win-win agenda. When it comes to attracting friends and clients, the elegant person will win every time!
Alice Wheaton is an accomplished managerial consultant. She is president of CoreGrowth Foundations, Inc in Calgary, Canada. Her books have been translated into 12 languages. Imperfect Forgiveness and her other works are available on amazon.com.