I was brought up to have exceptional manners. Almost to the point of being irritatingly thankful. My parents were divorced so when my father took me to the theatre for example, I would thank him at the time, I would thank him when I said goodbye AND I would write a thank you letter. Table manners had to be impeccable so I sat up straight, paused between mouthfuls, placing my knife and fork down while I chewed, I never spoke with my mouth full; I never relaxed! Pleasing people is exhausting and you just can’t do it all of the time.
It’s taken me a while to appreciate this, especially when it comes to running a business. In this industry, clients come and go all of the time. They have babies, change jobs, their work schedule changes, you might not be the right teacher for them, the timing isn’t right. When I first began teaching, I would take every client leaving personally.
At the start of every booking block, I still get anxious. I don’t like it when a client leaves but I have learnt ACCEPTANCE.; one of the Seven Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness.
To accept means being open and prepared to seeing things as they are. To be with the emotional feeling of how things are. To be with the reality of that moment without trying to change it.
Do you notice how it feels to have dis-pleased someone? For me, it usually arises as a pang of anxiety followed by persistent rumination and feelings of guilt. Physically these manifest as tightness in my chest and throat or butterflies in my tummy. I used to push the feeliings away, bury my head in the sand, but the feelings would persist. My body was saying LISTEN! Now I sit with the physical discomfort. Staying present to this feeling enables me to recognise the reality such as it is. This is when clarity arises and I see it wasn’t me personally that caused that client to leave, but rather a change in circumstances.
Try it for yourself the next time you feel you have not ticked the people pleasing box. It may not have been your fault. The other person could have been having a bad day. They might have woken in a bad mood. They may be stressed and have taken it out on you. A change in circumstance is most likely the cause and not you personally.
If you genuinely hurt someone’s feelings, apologise. If you are worrying about it, where’s the harm? The other person might have forgotten all about it, but if it is sitting poorly with you, sometimes the only way to change that feeling, is to say sorry. First you have to accept that you are in the wrong and then you can do something about it. The other person might laugh it off but that doesn’t matter if it makes you feel better. And if they accept your apology, then you have built a stronger bridge between you.
What have you got to lose?