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April 5, 2014

A Thousand Things It’s Not My Job To Do

You ever feel like you just need to tell someone off?

You feel like you just NEED this person to KNOW how you feel about something? Because it’s THAT important to you. They need to hear YOUR truth. It’s THAT urgent for your own sense of peace.

I felt that way recently. And I want to share the story with you because the experience was so instructive for me.


I actually didn’t want to tell the person off. I had actually already gone through my angry phase with the person and was now at a place of wanting closure and wanting to offer my forgiveness. It was important to me to reach out to let them know that I was okay. I wanted them to know that I forgave them (even though they never apologized) for a situation we ended up in together, and that I considered everything that happened between us water under the bridge.

Before approaching them, I thought, this will be good for them–they’ll appreciate my graciousness and be happy that I was fine after a perceived “betrayal.” E.g. my “hurt” as a result of their actions.

I emailed the person, told them how I felt and that I was actually grateful for the experience (even though it was painful at the time) because it helped me grow as a person. I forgave them. Wished them the best.

Afterwards, I was feeling preeeeeetty good about myself. Look at me! Taking the high road! I’m so generous! Lol. *pats self on back*

Until I got the response.

It was the most anticlimactic thing on earth; basically something like, “Gee, I’m happy for you, Jill. Never meant to hurt you but what are you gonna to do? That’s life.”


Where was the acknowledgement of my good deed?? Where was the appreciation for my forgiveness?? The relief? Where was the gratitude??


It was me who was having the problem! I was the one with the issue! It was my own hurt and insecurity and sense of “being done wrong” that was causing me the misery and the need to reach out. THEY WERE GOOD. Of course they were!

Why? Because my “stuff” has nothing to do with other people. Other people are there to help ME grow. This entire situation was about me, and MY process.

My spiritual coach said to me after, a variation of: “You’ll know that you’ve ACTUALLY let it go when you don’t even feel the tiniest inkling to reach out. You handle it all internally, working on you, and realizing that people will do what they do, and these are ‘practice’ opportunities for you to do the work on yourself. It’s also not your business to ‘let them off the hook.’ You did that for you.”

YES! Holy shit. He was so right! AND HOW INCREDIBLY ARROGANT WAS THIS ENTIRE SITUATION?? Me *bestowing* my unsolicited forgiveness. Really?

But here’s the thing…

If I had to go back, I wouldn’t change my actions–though admittedly, writing it out here is embarrassing as hell :) I wouldn’t change what I did because I owe it to my own personal development to have the experience. Without the experience, how can I come to the realization that yes, it really is all about me? That I indeed have the power to set myself free. Without taking action and doing what’s in my heart in the moment, how can I get the lessons? I can’t. Because, now I know. Now I understand. Now I have the insight. And though it’s hard, I try not to judge myself and instead realize that I’m doing the best I can, and all I can do in any situation is introspect.

It is embarrassing looking back now? Hell yes! Was it a zen move on my part? Nope. BUT. This is REAL LIFE. This is normal human shit. We all do it. So now, all I can do is choose self-compassion and to learn the lesson the hard way (aka the only way!), by going inside.

So instructive! And so now I know…

Things it’s not my job to do:

  • Forgive people (what’s there to forgive? I really need to forgive MYSELF)
  • Set them straight
  • Give them advice and hold out hope that it’ll be taken, then take it personally when it’s not
  • Try to control the outcomes/words/actions of others
  • Prevent them from messing up (is it even a “mess up” to them? Or only in my eyes?)
  • Need others to “get” or understand me
  • Control the emotions of others
  • Understand why people do what they do (they do it whether I understand it or not!)
  • Expect people to do what I’d do
  • Coach/discipline/reprimand people for acting a way I don’t agree with (how arrogant to think I know better!)
  • Ever “master” this (because how could I possibly? The lessons always come)
  • And a thousand other things that are 100% out of my control and not my business to “fix”

My only job is to follow my path. And I can never control where it takes me. So I practice being open to outcomes, not attached to them.

People come into my life, they help me get the lessons if I choose. It will NEVER be smooth sailing, but that’s not the point. The way I see it, the point of this life is to navigate the best you can and then look inside when those negative emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, annoyance, etc) pop up. To introspect the best you can when you encounter challenges and find a way to carve out a piece of peace and understanding. And those things can never come from someone else.

I can never feel enough love, affirmation and approval from someone else if I don’t feel loved, affirmed and approved of all on my own. My worthiness is innate. And my only practice is remembering that :)

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”  ~Rumi


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