When I was young, I resisted anything I thought made me one-down–anything that appeared to put another person at an advantage at my expense. This included gratitude, forgiveness, contriteness, etc.
Why was I that way? Was it because my father was a narcissist and punished me whenever I one-upped him? Was it developmental? Does everyone go though a phase like this when maturing? Did I have a fragile ego?
Over the years, I have come to appreciate change over causes–how over why. If you make understanding why you are the way you are a condition for change, then it may never happen.
I now see great strength in being one-down. Here are the events leading to this conclusion.
I used to hold onto resentments. I didn’t want to let someone get away with hurting me, so I would hurt them back by refusing to forgive them. I started to notice that the other person went on with their life as if nothing was wrong. Maybe if I resented them more, they would get the message. They were impervious to my ill will. Not only did they get away with something, but they weren’t punished by my resentment. This infuriated me, until I realized how much resentment was hurting me.
I realized that forgiving them was for my benefit and not theirs. There is a quote that has been attributed to many different people that illustrates this point, “holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.“
Feeling gratitude used to give me the willies. I am serious, it creeped me out. I avoided it. I didn’t like it because I thought it was tool for ingratiating one’s self to others. Only sycophantic losers felt gratitude.
Then my meditation teacher started teaching on the subject of gratitude and what a wonderfully spiritual experience gratitude is. My teacher had helped me overcome many emotional obstacles in my life, that there must be something to this. Once I was able to stop seeing it as something only losers do, I found it a wonderful experience. I started doing a practice where every night before I went to bed, I thought of at least five things I was grateful for. I became a happier person. “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”–William Arthur Ward
Before we get to expressions of regret, I want to ask you, how others view a “successful” person who is always assigning blame? The words that come to mind are bully, asshole, bitch and prick. They may have a fancy house and car, but how did they come by them? Did they step on people to get to the top? Do they get their way in business dealings because the other person is afraid of them? Would you want to get a beer with this person? It sounds very lonely. Their life partner is probably a gold digger. It sounds very lonely.
If the person is famous, they may have millions of fans, but how many real friends does she or he have? I mean the kind of friend that sticks by you through thick and thin. This person is a spectacle. They mistake celebrity for true love.
Perhaps, people who don’t accept responsibility for their actions and avoid regret may feel better in the short term, but the loss of friends and the estrangement of family must adversely affect happiness in the long term.
To be continued
©2016 Stephen L. Martin