Last week, a former colleague wrote to share that she was hurt by an email I sent her nearly a year ago. She wrote that my message was accusatory, hurtful, and wrong.
I felt an immediate defensiveness like a drawbridge being raised and metal shutters being drawn and latched. I also thought a series of judgements, all of which blamed her and reaffirmed my innocence in the situation.
She shouldn’t have done this, and she should've done that. She shouldn't have done that, she should’ve done this. She doesn't understand. She's made a mistake.
After that turbulence of blame subsided, I was left feeling sad, embarrassed, and regretful. I felt stress and anxiety start to build as my mind raced to find a solution.
That's when I put on the brakes: instead of figuring out how to best reply to her message, I decided to settle my mind and allow inner wisdom to guide me in the right direction.
I then came across a quote by Marianne Williamson that a friend had shared: “See all human behavior as one of two things: either love, or a call for love."
That’s what was missing: love. It was missing in my original communication, and it was missing in my defensive thoughts and feelings. I now had an opportunity to ask myself: how could I respond with love?
Love would apologize. Love would take responsibility for the impact. Love would own all of the situation: what happened, my experience, and her experience.
In acting from love there’s no stress, there’s no fear, there’s no regret, there’s no defensiveness. Acting from love is a generous, vulnerable gift that we give others, and in the giving of it, we get to receive it too.
I wrote to her the next day and I apologized for the impact of my previous message to her. I apologized for leaving her with such a negative experience when she's so clearly worthy of respect, appreciation, and love. I apologized for having "fired an arrow" instead of communicating with a commitment to mend, grow, and understand.
I’m so grateful that she was willing to honestly express herself to me without knowing how I’d take it - that took courage and vulnerability, and I'm a better person because of it. She gave me the gift of her honest expression.
I’m also grateful to have read the quote about love and to be reminded of who I am, what I’m committed to, and how to best respond to anyone.
Thanks so much for reading. ❤️