"To err is human; to forgive, divine."
- Alexander Pope
night I was working at my restaurant job, waiting tables.
I had been off for several days, and in those
days my boyfriend and I had visited my family in Charlottesville, and I had a
belated birthday celebration with eight of my girlfriends.
I was ready to get back to work and I was
also ready to be a little more disciplined.
After having spent the majority of the summer, indulging in wine and
rich foods, my jeans no longer fitting comfortably, I was also ready to go on a
healthy eating regimen.
Michael, and I decided we would do without alcohol, the beloved sugar in our
morning coffee, and eat more whole grains, greens and lean protein.
Wednesday, we began our new diet, I went to therapy in the morning, I took my
first run around Central Park after a long time, and on my subway trips I was
reading Helen Palmer’s The Enneagram. Now, back to my serving shift. I had focused on so many things that day,
trying to change big habits in one fell swoop (I’ve never been good at baby
steps), that by the time I got to the restaurant I could barely see what was in
front of me.
as awkwardness, so stuck in my thoughts I was, that when I would try to speak
to the guests, it came out fumbling and flustered. It was a very busy night, with 300 guests on
the books, so I told myself, “Liz, you better get your sh*t together!” I did and I went into turbo speed. Obsessed with pushing forward out of this unfocused,
awkward state, I did my job and others jobs (helping open dozens of wine
bottles, running people’s drinks, clearing, and remarking, and taking
orders). This is not to say other people
weren’t doing their jobs, they were, but it was a busy night, so we all needed
to pitch in.
hurricane of my forced attempts, when I went to put in the order for a table of
four as three lobsters and one halibut, I put instead three halibuts and one
lobster. This may not sound like such a
big deal, and in the grand scheme of things it isn’t. But, when the kitchen is trying to churn out
over 300 meals, that mistake can set them majorly back. It’s a domino effect.
There was a
surge of heat that filled up my body.
Burning tears brimmed at my eyes.
I was furious with myself! How
could I have done that? Where was my
head? (In the clouds, for sure.) I went to the table and took the blame and
apologized profusely. They were lovely,
assured me that it was not a problem, the two couples had not seen each other
for eight years and they were enjoying catching up. I told them, “I don’t know what
happened. I am known as the waitress who
doesn’t make mistakes!” Promptly, the
older gentleman said, “I make mistakes all the time, everybody does.”
Wow. That stopped me dead in my tracks. He was right: everybody makes mistakes. I
realized that I had been so hard on myself, pushing myself and pressing myself
further, that I had worked myself into a tizzy.
I slowed down, apologized to my manager and chef, and tried to get
through the rest of my shift as gracefully as possible.
The next morning, on Thursday, I
sat down to meditate. When I asked my
heart for a word, it said “forgiveness.”
It was the perfect word I needed to hear. In the Enneagram, we all have different foci
of attention. As a four, my Focus is on
what is missing or what I lack. It is
incredibly easy for me to see all the ways that I am deficient or not
whole. I can also go to my resource
point of One, whose attention is on improvement, and seeing things as right
versus wrong. Under stress, I go to Two,
whose attention is on meeting others needs (and as a byproduct neglecting one’s
own). Once you understand your Enneagram
type, and where your focus of attention naturally goes, you have a choice
whether or not to play out that fixation, or have some distance from it.
It is easy to not forgive yourself
if you are in the grips of your personality.
All you see is what is not measuring up.
It’s as if you have the potential to see the world from 360 degrees, but
instead all you see is 40 percent of it.
When you are able to take a step back, you can see more clearly the
whole picture, and like the glass is both half-full and half-empty, there are more ways than one to see that
Forgiveness is an incredibly hard
concept to grasp and put into practice.
Forgiveness implies grace, self-awareness and self-acceptance. If we
can forgive ourselves first, we can certainly forgive others more easily. Seems like a worthy pursuit, doesn’t it?
What ways are you hard on
yourself? How do you forgive yourself? What type are you and where does your focus
of attention go? Please leave a comment
so we can get this conversation going!
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