To Lynette wherever you are: I’m Sorry

I’ve been thinking about a relationship I had years ago, several years even before I met my wife.

What I’ve been thinking about specifically is the way it ended.

Badly.

I don’t remember details of what was said exactly. I do remember what I said at the time I meant in such a way that it would both hurt and leave her wishing we’d never broken up. I know, weird combination, right? And now, twenty-five or more years later, with at least a touch more maturity and experience on my side, I wonder what would’ve ever caused me to do that? What makes any of us intentionally hurt those we regularly interact with or those we once loved? (Don’t shrug your shoulders at me, we’ve all been there!)

I know, at the time, I too was hurt and angry. Maybe it was simply a lashing out thing. Maybe it was an ego thing, which makes me think of situations at work even today that instill the very same feelings. I get customers who ask what, to them, are very simple straight-forward questions. Yet at the time and for whatever reasons, to me they just seem inane, or an annoyance; a hindrance to whatever it is I should be doing. So I’ve found myself, in answering their question, doing so in such a way that through tone or body language pretty much lays that out. Again, I feel upset or angry, so I let them know. Which, believe it or not, really isn’t that conducive to a positive customer service experience, and is why I’m really making a conscious effort not to do so anymore.

I don’t know if it’s so much ego or pride, but either way I’ve got an obvious problem with both. And they’re both apparently huge: Great hulking 800 lb. gorilla-like things living inside my brain waiting to pummel someone senseless who dares shatter either one’s fragility.

It’s a bit of an issue.

And I’ve apparently had it (or them) for years.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Think about your first reaction when you’re on the freeway and some low-speed jerk decides to cut you off . . .

. . . Yup, that’s them!  Pride and Ego, aren’t they wonderful?

I’ve really been taking myself to task over this lately and it hasn’t been easy. They’ve got about forty-plus years of experience on me and they’re good at their job. Plus they’re smooth . . . There are times I don’t even know they’re sneaking up on me until they strike. Then I’m like, “Did I just say that? Out loud??”

Oops.

It doesn’t take a person of faith to understand and address issues of pride. Of course there’s the biblical quote: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

But there’s also:

Pride is seldom delicate; it will please itself with very mean advantages.
Samuel Johnson

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.
C. S. Lewis

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
Dale Carnegie

Let pride go afore, shame will follow after.
George Chapman

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.
John Ruskin

He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise.
William Shakespeare

In other words, it’s a bad thing.

So Lynette, wherever you are, I’m sorry. Sorry for the things I said, and sorry for the hurt I’m sure I caused all those years ago. I would like to say it was Pride talking, or maybe Ego. But both need a mouthpiece, a voice, a messenger to carry the words toward their destructive end instead of drowning them in the well of self-respect where they should have perished in the first place. But both are powerful adversaries, and I lost that battle, just as I’ve lost many others since then even up to this day.

And that’s certainly nothing to be proud of.

Thankfully the battle’s not over. It may take the rest of my life, and probably will, but I hope to get there. I hope to get to that place where Pride is not an issue; where my Ego remains in check and I can address people, regardless of their own demeanor, with humility and grace.

I’m not there yet, as anyone who knows me and/or works with me can well attest. My temper can flair with the best of them. But I think it’s enough for now to acknowledge that I’m a work in progress. And as long as there is progress, that’s enough for now.

And that is something to be proud of.

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One thought on “To Lynette wherever you are: I’m Sorry”

  1. I have had this same conversation with myself so many times. It IS so hard to remain civil, especially when I have so many witty, cutting remarks right on the tip of my prideful tongue. The comment that really kills me occurs while I am sitting on the floor, either zoning or knee-deep in sorting books or shelving, and then comes the inevitable question from a customer: “Do you work here?” I am dying to say: “Noooo—I’m just doing this for the fun of it. Hey, I actually pay THEM to let me come here and shelve! Wanna join me?—it’s a real gas!”

    I find I have to practice calming my emotions and changing my thought habits or I end up in Hell inside my very own head. When I consciously decide to just be kind and helpful to people I am so much happier and the darkness in my mind evaporates. But it is a continuous battle, especially when I am anxious to finish a task in the midst of never-ending interruptions.

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