Get out of Your Own Way, Cupcake! (Forgiving Someone’s Unconscious Transgression)

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I’m in morning traffic, minding my own cupcake business in my little two-inch convertible. I watch as a blasted Yukon cuts in my lane, no blinker or signal, and barely misses my headlight. I am not happy about it. Then she slams on the breaks. This is usually the part where most people honk or give a specific finger to the offending driver in the sleek-looking minivan on steroids. I am somewhat annoyed, but not angry. I’m focused on my sense of balance, my ethos, my ego, and what serves me most. Right now, what serves me most is forgiving someone’s unconscious transgression, so I forgive the horrible driver and continue singing off-beat on my way to work.

In future blogs, I promise to discuss different types of forgiveness with an added bonus of an infographic (whoo-hoo). However, today I just need to explain the simplest of problems that cause us to harbor our injured feelings, which sabotages our happiness. First, let me give a simple definition of ethos. Ethos is appealing to people’s ethics to convince them how to see or think of us. It is the image that we portray to those around us, with the specific intent on how we want others to “see” or characterize us. How we construct our ethos depends on the difference between someone seeing us as credible or unreliable, identifying us as having integrity and morals or fraudulent. This is huge with public figures, and this is what people attack first when they want to smear someone in the public’s eye (think politicians, actors, and news anchors).

Our ego usually helps to form our ethos. As Mikhail Bahktin and other behavior biologists have claimed, when we interact with people and we gauge how they relate to us or judge us (usually through their verbal and nonverbal body language and eye contact), we translate this information and use it to help us strengthen our persona. We use information from others to further perpetuate our image, whether we want it to be heroic or villainous. Our ego tells us when our efforts are working, and our ego also tells us when our plan needs serious help.

 

Get comfortable, darling. It's safe in

SIDENOTE: The ego has one job, and that is to protect us. To protect us, the ego prefers to keep things pretty much in a loop; as long as things stay the same, the ego knows how to react. When we change things (go for a higher-paying job, move to a new state, start a new relationship), the ego panics. So, to put it mildly, our ego perceives things in a way that serves our ego. What we think is true, may not actually be true. Our ego motivates us to create our specific ethos, and our ego does not like change. At all.

 

Let me repeat, just so I am as clear as mud:  the ego is not trustworthy. It serves a purpose that is not necessarily helpful to your true desire or goal. So, when a person attacks us, is she attacking us, or is that person attacking our ethos?  This is actually easy to answer. If someone is attacking me, the end result will be bruises or torn clothing or blood. If someone is attacking my ethos, my ego screams at me and then I feel hurt because I have somehow been wronged.

And remember the kicker here: I may not have been “wronged” at all. Someone has done something (cut me off in traffic and almost hurt my cute little car), or not done something (did not use her blinker, didn’t even wave a polite “thank you” to me), that my ego has perceived as an act of treason. The person committing the betrayal may be totally unconscious of her actions. After all, her ego is protecting her, and she may not even know it (if you know someone like this, get her to this blog ASAP!).

A friend once told me, “It’s easy to forgive when someone genuinely apologizes. It’s when they don’t apologize that it becomes hard. You say you forgive, but there’s this weight of some invisible enemy on your heart, and how do you move an enemy that isn’t even real in the first place?”

Well, here’s to removing invisible enemies so you can free your heart to forgive and love in your own little cupcake way.

forgivesoyoucanlove

  1. Decide if you are truly injured, or if you are mentally betrayed. If you are injured, seek medical help and read my blog next week. If you feel betrayed, note to yourself that this is your ego. Become mentally aware, and just pay attention to your thoughts.

 

  1. As you pay attention to your thoughts, REMAIN NONJUDGMENTAL. Let your thoughts move around your head, and simply recognize them for what they are; the ego’s way of dealing with a threat to your ethos. Breathe deeply, and just relax as you practice your mental awareness. Continue until you notice the thoughts slowing down. Keep breathing. You are not trying to do anything specific to these thoughts; you are only noticing them. This may take some time if you have never done this exercise before, so be patient. The thoughts will slow down as you breathe and acknowledge them. It will take as long as it takes.

 

  1. When you notice yourself calm and the thoughts have slowed down to just one or two main ideas, thank your ego for pointing out the threats to your ethos. Express serious gratitude, then tell your ego to take a break. Yes, I mean serious gratitude, as in you mean it, and it is a deep thankfulness. Your ego is not going to fall out of your head, so just tell it to relax and take a siesta. Keep breathing calmly and slowly.

 

  1. When you feel your ego “relax,” turn to your inner voice (some people refer to this as an angel, the Holy Spirit, one of the Arch Angels, the list is endless). This is the voice you hear when your mind is still, in the realm of no mind, and this is your true self. (Clueless? Click here for an explanation of “no mind.”) Now, ask yourself these questions:

 

Is this anger or pain serving my best interest? Is it helping me attain my goal? Is it in line with… Click To Tweet

 

Is this anger or pain serving my best interest? Is it helping me attain my goal? Is it in line with my personal values? If the answer is “no,” then you need to let it go.

 

Andy Shaw, creator of a Bug Free Mind, reminds us that “Humans are not static,” so you only move toward your goal, or away from your goal. This is your choice. Remember, the brain can only hold anger on its own for 90 seconds. After the 90 seconds, you have made a conscious decision to continue. Since the Yukon incident is not taking me toward my goal, there is no point in me holding a grudge against her, especially since she probably did not even see my car, which is small enough to fit into her tank of a back seat.

 

  1. A friend of mine has one rule written in her kitchen: “you cannot hold a grudge if you do not let the person know how you feel.” If you still feel agitated in some way, then you need to at least give the disloyal wench a chance to apologize. If she chooses not to express regret, well, then, maybe she was not a true friend after all. You can joyously choose to move on, as now there will be no guilt on your end.

 

  1. Not done blowing off your enemy yet? If she is a friend, and you are too chicken to talk to her (or him), then Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman suggest practicing an act of gratitude. In their book Transforming Anger: The Heartmath Solution for Letting Go of Rage, Frustration, and Irritation, Childre and Rozman invite you to go into your mind, and think of all the wonderful things this friend has done for you. Remember how those actions felt, and try to find one memory that stimulates a strong, positive emotional reaction. Stay in this powerful feeling of gratitude, and while you are in this mood, shift your memory over to the incident that bothered you. Let your sense of gratitude and love for your friend relax over the agitation, and picture your positive feelings recoloring or re-imaging the negative memory until the memory no longer causes a reaction. Again, do not rush this process. This will take as long as it takes, so just relax and enjoy the process.

 

  1. Still holding onto your resentment? Good grief, cupcake! You and I are so much alike! HA! So, I tell you what to do. Get up from your computer and go for a walk. Get outside and smell the roses. Why? Because after all the hard work you have done, you need to stretch your legs and get some fresh oxygen. While you walk, pay attention to the sound of your feet, the feel of the wind or the sun on your body, and the smells that enter your nose. When you return home, if you do not feel better, get your car keys and go find yourself a cupcake of your choice. You should celebrate FORGIVEYOGIyour ability to hold emotions for longer than the average bear.

 

And read my next blog. It actually goes deeper into forgiveness, since this is such a hard topic for some, and I have barely touched the surface of our minds (evil laughter here).

 

 

So, what do you do to forgive someone’s unconscious transgression? Feel free to share, as this may help someone else reading this, and you are sending out a Karmic boomerang!

 

Let me know how it’s going, and as always, stay frosted!IMG_0112

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29 thoughts on “Get out of Your Own Way, Cupcake! (Forgiving Someone’s Unconscious Transgression)

    1. Debby, I was too busy thanking God that she didn’t hit my car from the front, and then I was thanking God that I didn’t get hit from behind! Rush hour traffic stinks, lol. Thank you for stoping by, and have a cupcake kind of day!

  1. Liz you are just so funny, every time I read your blog I have to make sure I don’t drink anything otherwise it’s a splutter disaster and crikey, we all know how bad that can be on a shiny Mac 🙂

    Great post as always. Forgiveness is such a tricky concept isn’t it. Sometimes we say it over and over in an attempt to actually believe it, but that sabotage monkey keeps reminding us that ‘you are too ticked off right now to believe this’ lol. I know I commented on one of your other posts about a friend’s experience with a grumpy driver and reading this post reminded me of it. I find myself ‘cutting a lot of slack’ for people more and more as each year passes, I wonder is it my age (I’m mellowing) or is it society (they’re becoming increasingly selfish, trapped in the speed of life and grumpy)?

    Gentle reminders each day to stick to the path and not be sidetracked by the behaviour of others are crucial to making sense of the world around us. Thanks for being one of those reminders x

    1. Jane, I try to avoid people that frustrate me greatly, but sometimes in my line of work that just isn’t possible, so I have to go to Plan B (forgiveness). Plus, I realized that it makes me a tad calmer and nicer, lol, which means more cupcakes for me! Have a great day, and get to writing! I haven’t seen a post in a while, cupcake! 🙂

  2. When I was a child this sort of shrugging things off came naturally to me. However as I grew older I suppose my ego, combined with my id, began to notice the injustices of the world and how they related to me, so now it is harder for me to instantly forgive. But you’re right, it would certainly be an advantage to our health, not to mention our blood pressure, if we could train our psyche to accept there are stupid people in the world and the best thing is to ignore them.

    1. Alice, I also realized as I became older, my ego became more insulted by bad drivers and insulting people. I’m just grateful that I figured this out so I could become a better (and more sane) person. Thanks for your comment, and have a great day! 🙂

  3. I am forever reminding my hubby who gets out of shape when drivers do things like this, not to take it personally. for me its not about forgiveness. Its small stuff- why sweat it. I think you have the makings of 2 blogs here. I’m sure experienced bloggers will guide you in ways that are newish to me. Enjoy your style as it is refreshing to be human.

    1. Thanks, Roz! I am so lucky that you are around, since you always have the perfect answer for this kind of stuff: “it’s small stuff–why sweat it.” When people are in the moment, sometimes they think everything is a problem, but it’s all relative, so thank you for reminding us that some stuff isn’t worth raising the blood pressure. Thanks again, and have a cupcake kind of week! 🙂

  4. I think I would have honked too:) The timing on reading this post came in at the perfect time. A car missed me by an inch because he wasn’t paying attention. He was speeding, pulled out of a towhouse complex driveway and if it wasn’t for my dog Mia messing around which resulted me in turning around, the car would have sent me across the street, that’s how fast he was going. I did scream at him, he rolled down his window and said “sorry” and left driving slowly.

    I was shaking, people came out asking if I was ok, they wanted to call the police. I just wanted to come home and get back to work. I’m not sure how to feel about what happened. Should I forgive that person… at the time no. What if there were little kids around? but I keep thinking to him rolling his window down, saying sorry and driving off slowly. Maybe he was honestly sorry. I’d like to think so.

    Mia is sitting beside me whining because we didn’t get our full lunchtime play so I’m going to head out, but I’ll be on extra guard now. My life flashing before my eyes is not a nice thing I even want to experience again.

    1. Gisele, I’m so glad that nobody was injured! Our house sits on a corner that is s favorite for speedsters, and I am just waiting for someone to slam into our house. At least the guy took time to apologize to you AND SLOWED DOWN. He’s glad you’re alive, too! 🙂 be more aware, but trust me when I say: forgiving is easier on yourself. 🙂

  5. Like everyone, I can get caught up with my own ego when someone slights me. As a whole though I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to harbour grudges or resentment. Forgiveness is easier. The first part of your post reminded me about something my NLP teacher told me she does when someone cuts her up in her car. She simply waves them and says in a comic tone, Thank you! Love you! It makes her laugh every time and she doesn’t get het up with it anymore.

    1. Clive, I have actually done the wiggly-finger wave at a rude driver. He flipped me off; when I blew him a kiss and smiled, he finally smiled and waved back. People just need to breathe. And become better at taking care of each other. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

    1. Cassandra, I know people who have lost their loved ones to crazy road rage incidents, and it completely baffles me why some people think it is ok to hurt others for mistaken “wrongs” done to them. Thank you for stopping by, and for reiterating this. Have a great week! 🙂

  6. Although the point you make about the driver not doing anything intentionally to YOU I may have honked. Funny thing is my wife honked at an older man (not knowing who was in the car) and when she passed him he gave her the certain finger. It actually made her laugh because he looked like a sweet old man until his finger went up and it caught her off guard,

    1. Michael, she laughed at the moment when she could have honked or returned his “gesture” of bad will. So, hey, she kept the event in perspective and spread a smile. Thank you for sharing, and have a great week! 🙂

    1. Awwwww, thank you, Sharon! I’m blushing, because I’m a big fan of yours as well, and I’m grateful for such a huge compliment! Feel free to share this site with anyone who might also enjoy it, and have an awesome week! 🙂

  7. I love your blog posts, Liz. To hold onto something hurts only us and not the other person. They usually have no idea what you are thinking.

    I try always to stay ‘Frosted” 🙂

    1. Thank you, Sherri. I always love reading your blogs, as well. We think so much alike! Frosted is such a good place to be, lol, so I’m glad that you stopped by and gave me a little pat on the back! Have a great week! 🙂

  8. I caught myself yelling at a driver the other day and thought “What am I doing?” He/she can’t hear me and even if he/she could, would it really change their behavior? Probably not. I know that the majority of people don’t mean to do stupid things so I do try whenever it happens to forgive them especially if it is someone I know personally. We all make mistakes, life is too short, blah, blah, blah. Apologize or forgive depending on which side of the situation you are in and then move on!

    1. Beth, I almost got into an accident today, and it would have been my fault as I didn’t see the driver speeding up to me as I pulled around another car. He honked, I waved, he waved and let me in (otherwise we would have both been hurt), and when he caught up to me a couple of miles later, I mouthed “I’m sorry.” He mouthed “OK” and drove on. Happy ending for all. Glad someone had grace for me. 🙂 See, Karma, lol. Hopefully you remember “life is too short, blah, blah” with the kids who don’t know how to write a letter or call a credit card company. 😉

  9. Well-explained information on facing problems that besets us such as those that cause pains and eventually ruin the happiness we always desire. I am very excited to reading your future blogs on the different kinds of forgiveness, including infographics.

    1. Lorii, if I can figure out how to make them work, I’ll even send you an email with the infographic on it. There are times when I realize that I am computer challenged, lol. Thank you for the comment, and have a great week! 🙂

    1. Lisa, you ROCK! Thank you for visiting, for getting my point, and for realizing sometimes when we get angry, it may not be at all what we think. And thank you for sharing this! That means so much to me. 🙂 Have a cupcake kind of week (Bob Harper style, of course)!

  10. How many cupcakes did you eat? 😀 I’d certainly eat a cupcake – and take a walk.

    This reminds me of what a Holocaust survivor said in the Washington Post, “I no longer carry any anger or hatred toward anybody, and that is not because they deserve it but I deserve to live free of it.”

    Thanks for the LOLs.

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