Three Little Words

In looking for a job, moving up in your career or trying to engage new clients it is important to know what you can do, who you can help and who you cannot.  Someone asked me the other day to describe people that I cannot help.  Since I work with individuals in job transition or career progression as well as business owners wanting to connect with their audiences my clients are across the board.  Sometimes it is easier describing the ‘not’s rather than the ‘can’s

My answer was immediate and very easy for me: “Angry”

I cannot help people who are still angry about their current situation or what has lead them to the point there are now.  I am okay with frustration, but all out anger is a big red flag.  They are not ready to release it and move forward.  If they are not ready to move forward no matter how fantastic of a job I do they won’t be able to embrace it and utilize it.

Anger is an ugly thing, and it always seems to bring a friend to the party.  Sometimes it shows up with resentment, fear or guilt.  Sometimes it gets the body involves and brings health issues like headaches, stomach problems or muscle spasms.  Anger doesn’t like to be alone so it reaches out and invites other undesirables to join it.  It can feed endlessly if not kept in check.  It can become very, very ugly and reach out and start to alienate those around you.  Nasty thing, anger.

Many times we think that it is the onus of another party to get rid of our anger.  If they would just act a certain way or even apologize we think that it is going to eliminate all that anger.  It won’t.  The responsibility is on you, my friend.  It is your anger, you are accountable for keeping it in check, deciding to keep it around or getting rid of it.

I’ve heard it said that “I am sorry” are the three most difficult words to say.  I disagree.  Saying you are sorry is quick and easy.  Too often the words are just that – words.  There is no action to back them up.  Sometimes there are no actions that can back them up.  So hearing words from someone else is not going to make it better for you.

In my humble opinion the three hardest words to say – and mean – are “I forgive you”.  I think sometimes we refuse to say these words or to actually forgive because we think it is a get out of jail free card to the offender.  It doesn’t work that way.  You are not giving any power to anyone else by saying you forgive them.  You are giving power to yourself.

Forgiving, truly forgiving, is a form of self-acceptance.  Acknowledging that someone hurt you, allowing yourself to feel hurt or angry and then releasing yourself from the pain.

If you get fired or laid off unjustly it is easy to be angry at the company or boss.  It is like someone breaking up with you for no reason.  It hurts so we get angry.  But that anger doesn’t do a damn thing to your former boss or company – but it can reek havoc on you.  If the boss is not affected for having to let you go do you really think their sorry is helping them?  No, they say it for you – to help you.  But in reality it does not.  It still hurts, you are still unemployed.

It is not necessary to go to your boss and tell them you forgive them, it is something that you do inside, it is personal.  This is between you and your anger.

I’ve been let go in a position before and I was downright pissed.  I carried it around like some Rock of Gibraltar like it was my right to do so.  What I found is it made me miserable and started affecting those around me.  I finally had to look at myself in the mirror and decide I did not want to be miserable any more.  So I forgave the company.  Yep, forgave all the people that treated me like crap and conspired and did me wrong.  Told you I was pissed.

A funny thing happened, I literally felt better, I noticed that my chest wasn’t as tight and I could breathe much better.  Then a couple of weeks later I was interviewing for another position.  I doubt that would have happened unless I had made the decision to forgive.

No one knew I had that conversation in my own head that was about forgiveness, but my son made an observation the next day that I seemed much happier.  That was all it took for me to understand the power of forgiveness.

But our lessons don’t always stick.  I found it easy to forgive in the business setting but couldn’t seem to make the transition to applying it to my personal life.  I am a little hard headed and sometimes an idiot when it comes to learning my lessons.

Recently I realized that I was carrying around some pebbles – not the big old rock that I had from the corporate lay off, but enough from a personal situation that it bothered me.  So again, I had that conversation and forgave inside.  I even tried to offer an olive branch.

Here’s the thing: sometimes you can forgive but it isn’t always received.  Even though I tried to extend the olive branch my hand was ignored – left hanging out there in an awkward moment.  If this happens to you at that point you have two options.  The first is to go back to the anger – and that is normally an instinct.

Your mind says, “Hey, I was the bigger person here, I forgave you!  What is your problem that you don’t play nice?  You were the butthead in the first place and I’m being the bigger person!”

Ignore it.  Decide to forgive again.  Maybe in your anger you burned a bridge – that anger will do some nasty things that you don’t even realize.  If you truly forgave than you are letting it all go, the before and after.

If they choose not to accept your forgiveness then that is on them, not you.  You have released it remember?  You cannot control what other people do – all you can control is how you respond.  I can’t help they don’t want to be friends – I still care about them.  It is their choice and I respect them for that.

If you are ready to move on in your job search, career progression, business building or even personal relationships then start with forgiving.  It will open many doors you may not have realized had been shut.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

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