Mistakes Can Build Your Powerful Presence

I made a huge mistake on Sunday that cost me a 35-year-old friendship.
It wasn’t until Monday that I realized that the relationship was well and truly over when the woman’s husband pointed out to me on Facebook that this was a consequence of my actions.  It wasn’t until Tuesday morning at around 3 am that I awoke with the understanding that a quote I have loved for years was true for me again.
It’s from Khalil Gibran’s book The Prophet: “Your pain is the breaking of the shell of your understanding.”
The understanding I arrived at was this: My number one gift to the world is my happiness. It’s the fuel for my Powerful Presence. When I make anyone else’s happiness more important than my own, sooner or later we’re both gonna pay.
Here’s what that understanding makes patently clear to me: I am accountable for every one of my yeses and nos. If don’t hold myself accountable for them when I say them, I will be held duly accountable by circumstances, later, when the cost to me–and to the relationship–will be much more expensive than I want to pay.
When I say yes, it can only be because my body, mind and heart are completely aligned with the person’s request. My yes has to result in my happiness first; that’s the only way I’m going to be able to light up the world with my Powerful Presence.
If I’m not in complete alignment with this request and it’s not going to make me genuinely happy to say yes, then my answer has got to be no right up front. I have to remember that if it’s not a complete “yes” at the beginning, it will turn into a monster “no” later.
I have to remember that I can’t be swayed by all the reasons that make saying “yes” seem like the right answer to give: “but she/he needs me to do it; it wouldn’t take that much for me to do it; I don’t want to disappoint her or him.”
When I say “no” I have to remember that it’s a complete sentence.
Saying “no” is the requirement if my body, heart and mind are not completely aligned with the request. To put it bluntly, if it’s not a  “Hell, YES!” it’s got to be a “Hell, NO!” right up front.
Here’s the real reason why it’s got to be a “Hell, NO” right up front: when you say “yes” without complete alignment, you set up the expectations of the other person. He or she believes that you’re going to do whatever you said you would do. When it finally dawns on you in no uncertain terms that you can’t pull off what you said you would, it lands on the other person like a betrayal of their trust. Depending on the nature of the circumstances and the length of time you wait before you confess the truth, that betrayal can be huge.
There’s room in some relationships for the fact that we’re all human and we all make mistakes.
The people in a relationship like that understand something that’s crucial for their long term success: although it’s never our intention to hurt the people we love the most, we’re going to do it anyway. Each person will confess their error as soon as he or she realizes it; both parties will learn from experience. As a result, the relationship will be all the more deep and powerful because of each person’s willingness to work through any breakdown of trust with the other. Most of all, the people in this kind of relationship know how to forgive one another.
Some relationships simply can’t withstand the break in trust. If one of them can’t get past the betrayal, the relationship dies an instant death.
The good news about Gibran’s quote is that although there is pain involved, there is also understanding. When you put that understanding into action, it will build your Powerful Presence in ways that nothing else can.
Meanwhile, I hope my experience will serve you in some way. I hope it will help you to say NO when it’s the real answer from your body, heart and mind. I hope it will help you to reserve your YES for when it’s congruent, wholehearted and supports your happiness.
For my part I will be forever grateful to my former friend. I could only have learned this particular lesson from someone I loved as much as her, for as long as her.
In the epitaph for our relationship that is written on my heart are the words: “Thank you for teaching me.”

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5 Responses to “Mistakes Can Build Your Powerful Presence”

  1. “I have to remember that I can’t be swayed by all the reasons that make saying “yes” seem like the right answer to give: “but she/he needs me to do it; it wouldn’t take that much for me to do it; I don’t want to disappoint her or him.”” OH MY Maia! That thinking has ruled too much of my life. I’ve done things, even recently, because they were expected or wanted of me, even if they didn’t sit quite right. That means that the other person’s desires are far more important than mine, which is certainly NOT true! I grew up an expert people-pleaser, and have learned other behaviors now. What a beautiful reminder.

    And a statement to publicized and put on my desk: “When I say “no” I have to remember that it’s a complete sentence.” WOW!

    Go on with your Powerful Presence – it blesses the rest of us!

    • Thanks, Holly! It’s certainly taking the sting out of my experience to know that I can share what I learned and have the kind of impact you describe here. Thank you for reaching out!

  2. MAIA! what can I say, beautifully written. I am amazed at what people continue to do with life. Although it might seem a bit cliche, for you it is really true……when people or life hands you lemons, Maia “THE WOMAN” Beatty sincerely makes LEMONADE! Your blog is written with so much power and strength. I appreciate that you decided not to be the victim here and allowed yourself to say that this taught you something without being bitter. God bless you! That takes a pretty strong, confident, and most of all, POWERFUL person to do such a thing. xo

  3. Thank you, Stacy! The greatest thing for me about making a mistake is being able to turn it around and learn from it. It makes a difference when I hear back from anyone who was touched by the message ~ it sweetens the whole thing like sugar to lemons in our favorite lemonade!

  4. no. 2 letters. 1 word. hard to say. hadn’t thought about it being a complete sentence but i like it. sorry for the trouble with your friend but as always you found something positive in the situation. it’s good to “see” you all the way from texas.

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