The Elizabethan is a monthly update of parish and ministry happenings. Any items for the newsletter should be sent by the fourth Friday of the month to the church office email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read the entire June 2019 newsletter click on this link >> Elizabethan 6-19
From Fr. John: Taking the hit as a gift
In this month’s Elizabethan, Father John writes about some mistakes that have the seeds of creativity in them, as well as ideas for how to deal with mistakes in your own life.
Our fear of making mistakes can limit our learning, affect our relationships and harden our stubbornness. There is another path.
George Leonard was a sensei, a teacher, of the Japanese martial art that practi-tioners use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. Aikido is often translated as “the way of unifying with life energy” or as “the way of harmonious spirit.” In his book, “The Way of Aikido,” Leonard teaches a philoso-phy of “taking the hit as a gift.” It applies not only to physical hits to the body, but to any misfortune including our mistakes.
When we receive the hit (or make a mistake), we have a variety of responses available to us. We can become immediately defensive and fight back reflexively. We can whine about how we are the victim in the situation and forfeit all possibili-ties of a positive outcome. We can entrench ourselves in denial or finger-pointing and surrender to the opportunity to grow.
Or we can take the hit as a gift. With a dose of humility, we can open up to the possibility to change a pattern, belief, behavior or relationship in our life that is no longer serving us. Here are some ways that you can take your next hit as a gift:
- Notice where you are focusing. Are you so fixed on how your mistake affects your own life that you are anxiously avoiding your responsibility for how the mis-take may be affecting others? Are you beating yourself up? Are you denying, mini-mizing or explaining away mistakes to rescue yourself from not looking good? These are ways that we disown our mistakes and a little of our humanity. More im-portantly, these kinds of responses shut down our options for acting.
- Find the resistance and breathe into it. Instead of immediately labeling the mistake as a problem or as negative, pause and simply acknowledge the truth of the mistake to yourself. Take a couple deep breaths and remember that mistakes happen. The pain you are feeling or causing can be a wake-up call to really look at your behavior and ask yourself if you are enhancing well-being or detracting from it.
- Open the gift. Reflect on what there is to learn from the mistake. Sometimes becoming aware of what NOT to do is a valuable baby step. Take the opportunity to create lasting change. These are moments that we can all engage to gain per-spective and reorient ourselves to what really matters.
- Choose your response. Define a next step. If your mistake impacts others, own it and name it. Seek forgiveness by genuinely apologizing. A true apology never includes the word “but” as in “I’m sorry, but…” Keep the emphasis on your actions, not on the other person’s response. “I’m sorry if you felt hurt…” is not the same as “I’m sorry about what I did (or said)” and be specific without overdoing it to the point of making your own embarrassment or shame the focus. You can say “I am sorry for my part…” but don’t get distracted by drawing other people into your apology. You’ll only weaken it!
Back up your words with corrective action if at all possible, and make sure not to re-peat the behavior. Be aware that not all apologies are welcome. Making amends may be part of your healing, but if your speaking to them risks hurting them further, you’ll have to look find another way. A serious hurt or betrayal requires repair work over time to restore trust.
- Express your gratitude. Take a moment to pray in gratefulness for gift once it has opened you to new growth, fresh opportunities and expanded awareness. This allows God to illuminate what really matters in your life and provide a path for learn-ing, for repairing or strengthening relationships and for softening our own stiff necks.
Mistakes happen. Joining with God’s creating actions, you can own them and learn from them. Who knows, maybe your mistake will be an innovation that benefits oth-ers or at least goes well with hot dogs!
Read more in the newsletter >> Elizabethan 6-19
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