When the calendar changes to a new year, many of us look inward to find how we can be better versions of our already fabulous selves in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Now, before you start to think I am crazy for setting resolutions so far in advance, I should explain something. This past weekend was Diwali, often known as the Celebration of Lights in the Indian culture, but also marks the Hindu New Year. Many Indians celebrate Diwali for different reasons (cultural, religious, traditional), but the one thing that remains the same is lots of light in the form of diyas (think tealights but with an oil soaked wick), fireworks and bright colours everywhere. While I don’t consider myself very religious, I have celebrated Diwali all my life and have to say I truly enjoy the holiday. As I have grown older, I have realized it is a time of renewal and a time to reset. To confirm what I want to stay true to and look at the things that I want to change.
This year, my “resolution” came about while driving to work, as I do almost every day. My drive is long (45 minutes to an hour) on a busy highway, and it is really not that uncommon to get frustrated at some point in the journey. One particular morning, I had a moment of road rage at a fellow driver that made stop and think about how angry my reactions were lately. I was angry while driving…while dealing with clients at work…when I saw co-workers that I had negative experiences with in the halls at work….and when I thought about something that frustrated me in general.
It seemed that most of my work day, I was angry and in turn I was becoming (gasp!) bitter. Most people who know me would say I can always find a way to look on the bright side, but it seemed like much of the time I spent awake I was in a bad mood. Not a good thing! I knew this had to change and a big part of this was learning to forgive and forget when something or somebody angered me.
I started small. Client asks a stupid question? Be the calm, kind voice to enlighten and educate them. Fellow driver changes lanes only to hit the brakes? At least they used their signal! Run into a former co-worker you don’t really want to talk to or see? Hmm…this was a little harder to tackle given the history I had with this person, but I knew I could not run away from them forever. I had to stop thinking they owed me an apology and start thinking about my responsiblity in how negative our relationship had become.
So what did I do? Though a face to face meeting would have been nice, this was not possible, so I did the next best thing. I sent this person a note and in the note, I apologized. I acknowledged my part in how things went down between us and I said sorry because I truly meant it. In the instant I hit send on the email, I felt lighter and strangely free. It was probably one of the best things I did for myself in a long time.
And the reaction? I am happy to say I got a meaningful reply back….and yes, an apology. Surprisingly though, it was not the apology I received that helped me feel like myself again. It was the apology I sent first that truly helped me forgive and forget.