How much longer do I have to wait? I posed the question to my husband, but really it was just my way of letting out some of the exasperation I felt. I had been waiting for 45 minutes so far for a medical appointment and it didn’t look like they were going to call me in any time soon.
“What kind of a way is this to treat people? How disrespectful and rude can they be? I am going to present him with a bill for an hour of my valuable time!” The words tumbled out as I became even more indignant.
I have a confession to make. I enjoyed being on that high horse. Self-righteous indignation and judgment feels very good to the immature ego and I was riding high. That is until I remembered that, whatever I judge in another is being mirrored for me and I am reacting to something within myself that I don’t want to see.
Sigh. There went all of the air out of that self-righteous balloon.
As I continued waiting, I looked squarely into the mirror and asked myself when I had been disrespectful like that and I could find it. As I pursued that line of thinking, immediately the ego-driven urge to pounce and harshly judge shifted from the doctor to my own behavior – self-judgment. But before I could mount a full-blown attack, I remembered the power of self-compassion and how it can melt away self-judgment.
I took a moment and focused on my heart and began to feel empathy for my younger self who had been doing the best she could with the resources she had and suddenly I was filled with gratitude, compassion and forgiveness. Only then was I able to give our tardy doctor the same break.
When I treat myself with love and compassion, I can then lavish it onto the world. Instead of harshly judging others and projecting what I don’t want to see in myself onto them, there is more room for me to become a much kinder and caring person.
Finally I was called after an hour, but I was a much different person getting up to go inside than I had been fifteen minutes earlier. During the appointment, the length of time I had been kept waiting was addressed, but without the residue of self-righteousness. Instead I was filled with compassion for the doctor’s regret that he had been called into an emergency. I could tell he was very upset that he had kept me waiting and that he appreciated my understanding.
It turned out that the hour in the waiting room was a very productive one after all. Both of us won.