I learned today that I’ve been maligned. I have a computer business and work with the general public, so it’s an occupational hazard. Lord knows you can’t please everyone. It turns out that I did a job for a lady two years ago and something subsequently went wrong. Of course, that’s quite possible. I’m often accused of being a perfectionist, but I’m not perfect and neither’s my work.
The thing is that when things went wrong, she didn’t call me. Why? Was she too timid to complain? Did she attempt and fail to repair it herself, leaving her too embarrassed to show me? Perhaps she lost my phone number. Is she delusional? I have no idea. I only found out because she told a prospective new customer that I messed up; not only that, but that I consistently refused to respond to her calls for help. Now that’s just untrue. It upsets me; I take care of my customers. To reassure my prospective client, I had to call my ex-client’s honesty into question.
With a sigh, I remembered the innocent days of my monkhood, when I thought my only job for life would be to love and cherish all sentient beings. How do I bring that mindset into this situation? With effort. I can accept those scenarios that might make her personally averse to me—but she’s gone further. By telling lies about me in this small town, she’s tarnished my reputation and affected my ability to support my family. I have to stand up for myself, but that threatens my mental clarity. Anger, vindictiveness, pride and insensitivity are dancing rings around my consciousness. What do I do?
To stand up for myself, I have to make plain her lie. Does that fly in the face of compassion? I can’t separate compassion from the truth, and where’s the sense in pretending she’s innocent? Also, I need to recall when, in defensiveness, I too have spoken thoughtlessly about others, thinking them distant and unharmed by my mere words.
My decision is to try my best to understand without taking this personally, but also to correct the situation as best I can. I’ll accuse her of lying if I have to. I’d prefer to do so calmly and dispassionately. To accomplish that, I need to understand how my reaction—how I feel right now—has everything to do with my unrealistic self-image as an inherently good person. The ultimate goal of mindful reflection is to uproot the disturbed perspectives that arise from misguided perceptions of self, and the self-cherishing behaviour that follows from that. Here’s an opportunity to put all those fancy ideas into practice.
Well, that’s the theory anyway. Stay tuned.