I am in a coffee shop and the owner overcharged me by $2.25.
I am at first trying to accept that. Mulling over it for 30 minutes, I decide to share with her that I felt unhappy about it. She gets defensive - even though I applied my best skills of compassionate communication.
I feel anger in my stomach rising and decide to not pursue it any further - I know that when I get triggered and anger comes, that is a sure sign that my ego is at work. Retreat.
Conflict averted for now. But internally I was imagining all kinds of ways to seek revenge - from mild and silly imaginings to more aggressive and vocal kinds.
I am sharing this candidly here, trusting that you can identify with similar trigger situations. They seem to be low stake quarrels at the outskirts of the empire of our conditioned selves - yet they tax our attention for a long time and stay basically unresolved.
What was happening? Why could I not keep my spirit from getting invested in a interpersonal war?
I was approaching the situation basically from a place of lack - a place where I assume:
that someone wants to come after me all the time
that I have to be on the lookout to not be hurt
that there is not enough for me in the world to survive
that I have the right to be treated with respect and fairness
that I am the one who is innocent and the other person is a potential perpetrator
that the lady was willfully misusing my lack of knowledge in the situation
that my resources are limited and I need to keep them together tightly
that I have the right to be listened to
Basically all these intrinsic attitudes amount to one summarizing concept: the victim. I was acting from the place of the victim. And when I am the victim - I do all that victims do: complain.
We, the victims, we love to complain and that gives us a sense of not being responsible. It has this strangely stale, but addicting feeling of familiarity and certainty to it. Victims seem to know what is true.
What happens when we complain? There is one thing for sure: we don’t see much of what is around us. We don’t see what has been done for us to be able to be in this place, store, situation, school or anywhere we are.
Transformation - a better tool for forgiving:
Back to the coffeeshop - how could I have changed the perception of the situation? What could I have been grateful for, what could I have appreciated there?
Well, here is a short list:
That the coffeeshop exists in the first place.
That it is a place I often go and find internal space for reflection and writing.
That it allows many people each day to congregate, have good conversations, share some time with one another
That the owner has given her life force to create this coffeeshop
That it has a beautiful name - that is very fitting for the ambiance and setting of town
That the owner pushed through and kept the store going in spite of doubts, financial challenges - which I am sure were many over the years, fear of loss
That she spent many hours of creativity to create a cosy place
That the owner wanted to create her life’s work this way - it is her way of contributing to a better world - by giving a welcoming place to people
The convenience of eating healthy food that is also tasty
The friendliness the staff have shown over the years
The intimacy of the place
The nourishment through food and drinks
The income for all the helpers and employees
The love that went into designing the decorations
The effort to set up the space in a way that is conducive for human interaction
And so on - I could find a ton more.
If I had been operating from a place of appreciation for what life brings to me - and the benefits and conveniences I had the privilege of experiencing in this coffeeshop - I would have had no reason to be in a suspicious or complaining mood, and what ever happened at the counter - I could have easily asked for a clarification without getting defensive and aggressive internally.
Just having written down these reasons why I could be appreciative has changed my view and I see no more owner trying to cheat me. It has simply dissolved. I am at peace indeed. No doubt.
Acting in the world from the basis of the victim archetype costs us a huge chunk of our life force - it lingers as unfinished business and severely taxes our attention and ability to live life fully in healthy ways
Preventing the victim attitude from rising, by cultivating a constant sense of appreciation for everything there is, is much softer on the body and spirit than having to deal with the consequences of the shadow aspects of the victim archetype acting out in the world
Being attentive to what we are receiving in every situation, has a transformative power in our lives: it saves our life energy we would have normally squandered in making ourselves habitually into victims
This transformative power is the light side of the victim archetype - it guides us - we need to seek it out and use it to change levels of awareness: it teaches us how to shift from conflict with life to living in a state of appreciation - which is peace
Changing our entire outlook on life towards appreciation with a passion, is a stronger tool even than empathy
How would that skirmish-situation you have experienced change if you approached it from the basis of appreciating what was present for you already?
How would some of the major challenging situations - like childhood trauma, major unfinished business - look if you looked for all you could appreciate about the person involved there?