Monday, February 02, 2009

An Unexpected Result

Last weekend, I was doing my grocery shopping at my local co-op/health food store. As I was at the checkout counter, being 'processed' I heard a terrible noise coming from behind me, inside the store.

A young boy, about 6 years old, was pushing one of those cute little 'kid carts' that some grocery stores have available. He had accidentally bumped it into a display table that had a tall pyramid of metal water bottles on it. They came crashing to the ground, making a terrible racket as all the metal bottles crashed onto the floor and clanked into each other.

Everyone instinctively cringed. I turned to see what happened, and saw the small boy, standing... panic stricken next to his father. He looked up at his dad, like, "Uh-oh. What's going to happen to me?"

Suddenly, someone in the check out line next to me started clapping. A few others joined in, and soon everyone in the immediate vicinity was applauding! The little boy kept looking at his father, who started smiling.

The little boy's fear melted into relief. He knew what happened wasn't "good" but the reaction of all the people around him let him know that it was OK, and that it wasn't "all that bad" either!

I thought this was a beautiful example of how to react to a mistake. The boy didn't mean to make the mess or cause that racket. It was a simple miscalculation. The look on his face said he was sure he was 'in trouble.' The reassuring reaction of his father, and the crowd, helped to transform the moment from a traumatic one, to a healing one.

What if we could show that kind of compassion to each other, and to ourselves? How would it be to applaud your most recent mistake, recognize the learning opportunity, make needed corrections and move on with a smile on your face?

Even if the mess is big, and the racket is loud, there is always a way forward through compassion and forgiveness.

Applaud yourself! Transform the panic stricken sadness into relief and learning.

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