Pissed on and passed over? – Never confuse being compassionate and being firm

Forgiving someone for a transgression and yet being firm on the issue need not be mutually exclusive.

A young manager I know is in a quandary. His boss has been harassing him at work – to the extent that the young man went into depression. His colleagues advised him to report the boss’ behavior and to seek a new role within the organization. The manager got himself assigned to a new project within the company over some months but he has chosen not to complain about his ex-boss. Over coffee the other day he asked me if was right or wrong in a. forgiving his boss and moving on and b. not reporting his boss’ behavior to his company’s HR leadership on grounds of breaching an organizational value – ‘respect for the individual’. “I am not sure I can be forgiving and also report him,” he confessed.

As I have learnt from Life, you can – and often must – do both. There’s a warm and compassionate side to each of us. We are, by nature, willing to forgive people for their transgressions. But often times our softer side is viewed and interpreted as our weakness by people who trample upon our emotions or deny us our freedom or even basic, fundamental, human courtesies. In such situations, it is absolutely fine to stand up for yourself, look the someone who is bullying or harassing you in the eye, and say that you will not take this treatment anymore. Besides, in this particular manager’s story, it is important that his boss’ behavior is reported. Because it conflicts with an organizational value and if left unchecked it may cause serious emotional injury to other employees and also impair the organization’s culture.

Important, when you are forgiving someone, you are gifting yourself freedom from the trauma that following any pain that has been inflicted on you. Forgiveness frees you of suffering. But fighting for the injustice meted out to you in the first place, that’s issue-based. So if you choose to stay firm, and unrelenting, on not allowing such an issue to arise again, either to you, or to anyone in the future, there is no conflict whatsoever.


I have learned this from Swami Sathya Sai Baba: “In any relationship between two people, one may well be a cow and the other, a bull. There’s nothing wrong in being either. Each has a role to fulfil and each has something to offer the other. But at any time that the bull starts taking advantage of the cow’s benevolence, mistaking it for meekness, the cow will be well within its rights to assume the ‘avatar’ of the bull. In taking a stance, in your own interest, there is no right or wrong. Just be true to yourself – do what you believe must be done in any context. The cow need not perpetrate any acrimony, aggression or animosity. But the cow shouldn’t suffer any of these either.”

In essence, while to make a mistake is human, and to forgive such a mistake too is human, to suffer in silence and sorrow is both unjust and inhuman. It is the biggest hurdle to inner peace and joy. So, don’t confuse being compassionate and being firm. They need not be exclusive. Simply, no matter who it is, don’t let anyone take you for granted, trample upon your self-esteem, piss on you and pass you over. Remember: if you don’t stand up for yourself – chances are, perhaps, nobody else will!


Being POPO-ed is a dimension of Life that you have to live with

POPO: Pissed On and Passed Over!
This often happens to all of us in Life. And leaves us frustrated, fuming, feeling negative and vengeful. So, when this happens to you, or if it is happening to you just now, take it easy. You are not the only one. We are all POPO-ed__one way or the other. When this happens in a relationship, you feel like a used paper tissue. And the grief of having been taken for a ride, taken for granted, takes a long, long time to heal. At work, it leaves you disenchanted and grumpy. You sulk. You stop putting in your best and reason with yourself asking ‘what’s the use?’
But here’s a different take. When POPO-ed don’t do the normal. Don’t grieve. Don’t sulk. Don’t give up on the individual. Instead keep giving your 100 %. Grieving, sulking, bad-mouthing and cold-shouldering are acts of cowardice. Fight the injustice but with love, with mindfulness, by serving. In fact, whatever happens in Life, happens because it was meant to be so. If someone got promoted, that person perhaps deserved it. But in your eyes, you deserved it more. Instead of saying ‘hey, this is unfair’ respond with ‘how could I have served better so that I could have got it.’ This whole idea of deserving must be preceded by serving. Serve to deserve. And even then if you don’t get what you think was truly yours, live in the acceptance of that verdict. This is what will help you retain your sanity, stay anchored and keep moving on.
When we get caught in the cesspool of negative energy, resentment, anger and vengefulness, we are hurting ourselves. We must be selfish here. If someone pissed on you, trampled on you, let you down, they did it because they wanted to hurt you. And you will be, by being angry with them, by carrying vengeance and hatred in your heart, allowing them to succeed. If someone overlooked you and gave another what must have truly come to you__a job, a raise, a promotion, a gift, a compliment, a reward, whatever__understand that this person may either want to hurt you or must have a different point of view. By burning within, you are helping this person get what she wants. By reacting without understanding her point of view, you are being judgmental. So, the most selfish, the most blissful response to being POPO-ed is to be selfless and give the situation love, all your attention and magnanimity, to keep doing what you would have done if the situation did not exist. This is your way to inner peace.
Now, many times, people tell me, “But I am not Saint or a Mahatma? I am not evolved. I am just human.” Please know that Gandhi was also an unevolved, hurting human and he died only because he was human. To be evolved you don’t need to be a Saint. And being a Saint does not mean you are meek. A Saint, a true Saint, is a warrior of a different kind. Someone who has conquered the demons within. Someone who knows that it is but natural for Life and people to be unfair, that being POPO-ed is but a dimension of Life, a phase that we have to live with. Not with suffering. But with peace.
This doesn’t mean that the peaceful should not fight the injustice. But fight it differently. First don’t hurt. Next, return love for hatred and respect for contempt. Third, if there has truly been a case of injustice, choose a form of protest which rises above the ordinary and refuse to yield to the injustice by giving the situation 100 % of everything. These are not contradictory approaches. They are complementary. When you are peaceful, you will be able to fight meaningfully and successfully. So when POPO-ed, be mindful and loving, don’t be sulking!