Empowerment Lies In Attitude

This past Saturday, I found myself on the wrong end of a $155 ticket for ‘driving while handling a communication device.’ The problem was, I wasn’t using a communication device, aka, my cellphone.

The officer pulled me over at the corner of Yonge & Front street in Toronto and when he told why he had pulled me over I was flabbergasted. I explained to him that I wasn’t using my cellphone, and he replied that he had seen me using it. I further explained that my older brother is a retired Metro police officer and that I had no reason to lie. I even offered to show him my cellphone so that he could see when I was last on it. But the officer refused to take my phone.  Clearly had made his mind up and was intent on giving me the ticket.

When I realized that he wasn’t listening and was going to give me the ticket, I got quite angry with him. Like The Champ, I snapped. I was furious, and I told him that I didn’t know what he thought he saw, but it certainly wasn’t me using a cellphone. I wasn’t belligerent, but I didn’t hold back my anger and I made it quite clear that in my opinion, he was wrong.

When I first heard about this law, I thought it was a dangerous one, because it can easily be abused by officers hungry to hand out tickets. At the very least, it is quite easy for officers to make mistakes in what they think they are observing.

I told the officer I was going to call my brother, which I did, and my brother advised me to get the officer’s badge and station numbers, and go to the station a file a complaint. At the police station, the officer behind the front desk advised me that my best course of action was to fight the charge in court. He said that due to the nature of the charge, filing a complaint against the officer wouldn’t accomplish anything.

When I reflected on this incident afterwards, what came to me is that this experience was brought to me in order to show me where I am in my quest for peace of mind…not as far along as I would like, because I allowed the situation to take me into a deep state of anger. I allowed it to control me. As a result, I felt rather sheepish.

My anger came from two things: first, the officer wasn’t listening to me and wasn’t interested in seeing things my way, and second, I felt totally powerless. Here I was, facing a $155 ticket and a day in court when I had done nothing wrong and could do nothing about it in that moment. Bamm…instant anger!

The key lesson in the experience I realized is about empowerment and where empowerment truly lies … in our attitude.

I was reminded of Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl was a WWII concentration camp survivor. He survived, because he believed there had to be meaning in his experience and he refused to let his captors determine his feelings. Frankl said, “we don’t always get to choose our experiences, but we do get to choose our attitude.”

Clearly, I had let this officer determine my attitude and from that perspective I had given up my power. I had given up peace of mind by allowing him to control me.

Not everyone is going to listen to or agree with what you have to say. Not everyone is going to think highly of you. Not every situation is going to be to your liking. Some will be extremely trying. You can remain empowered by always taking charge of your attitude and keeping it positive…you have that choice. When you do so, you feel good about yourself.

Have an awesome day!

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