perspective . . .
The other day, our family went to our favorite restaurant for a Sunday lunch. We have had meals there on Christmas Eve afternoon and the last time was a brunch with my daughter, C., which had been fabulous. Much to our surprise this time, we were served overcooked dishes with what tasted like leftovers from the night before. Not wanting to spoil our time together, none of us mentioned it. Later, I wrote a review on “Yelp” about our disappointing experience. Shortly thereafter, the GM of the restaurant responded personally to my review in a very sincere and candid manner, apologizing for the sub-par meal that we had had there. I wrote back that we would be glad to return again and hoped the high quality we had gotten used to would be consistent in the future.
This incident made me reflect about the difference between being defensive and taking ownership for something and then apologizing. Have you ever noticed that some of the most entrenched (e.g., angry) attitudes appear when people feel defensive about something they might have done wrong? Nobody likes to admit they’re wrong, I suppose, although I do it quite often, probably too quickly sometimes (which is a fault of another kind.) I’ve noticed that blaming the victim can be one of the strongest defense mechanisms to protect oneself from the reality of our own mistakes. Not taking responsibility this way can last a lifetime. Apology, on the other hand, can serve to keep doors open. Defensiveness slams them shut.
Something else came up last night on a TV show we were watching that I think is pertinent to this discussion. One character said to another, “If you stop thinking just in terms of what you like and what you don’t like, and look at things as just being the way they are, you’d be much happier.” I thought this was a rather pithy statement to be spoken on a TV mystery show (“The Mentalist”.) Instead of taking things personally all the time, know that some things just are the way that they are. In a parallel vein, its cousin might be: “Know the difference between what you can change and what you can’t, and stop wanting things (or people) to be different from what they are.”
What I learned from reflecting on these disparate events amounts to this: change what you can (yourself); stop trying to change others or wishing that you could!; stop being defensive and blaming the other person when you know you’ve done something short of what you wished you had. . . and apologize for pete’s sake when you have good reason to!
Then, let the rest go.
That’s it for today, I guess. That’s a lot, isn’t it?