This post originally appeared at Finding common Ground. I have cleaned it up a bit since its original post. I realize this one is a bit foofy.
You, and only you, are 100% responsible for the way you react to everything.
You are never 100% responsible for someone else's actions, but when it comes to the way you respond to events or people, no one controls what you choose to do. Someone may say to you, "You make me do this". This is never the case, its simply laying blame.
You may make me feel angry. Something can feel unfair. An event may feel hurtful. Someone or something may genuinely, physically and emotionally hurt you. But none of those things force you to a specific action, ever.
Only you can decide your response.
The choices of reactions are many: retribution, justice, escalation, withdrawal, depression, and outright tantrums are all common, and perhaps easy, responses to negative events that happen to each and every one of us. More often than not, emotion trumps rationality. Everyone is susceptible.
How about forgiveness? How do we find it in ourselves to forgive people, or look past events, or even forgive our own mistakes? Is it possible to forgive someone for rape or the murder of a child? If so, why should we forgive such an evil act?
The Buddhists teach that forgiveness is the path to a healthy mind and positive Karma. That being able to forgive horrible acts will lead you on path to enlightenment. Other religions teach other aspects of forgiveness (and sadly many of them focus on how you can receive forgiveness from God, rather than how to dispense forgiveness to your fellow human).
Depending on the degree of the insult, the amount of effort to forgive can be anything from trivial to insurmountable. Frankly, there are thresholds and mechanisms by which forgiveness can be had, but they depend on your willingness to accept that sometimes forgiveness is not required.
If, for the moment, we focus on the actions of others that do not result in lasting harm, we can perhaps find a mechanism by which forgiveness comes easier. Actions such as these include deceit, lies, gossip, rudeness, and many misunderstandings. In general, these negative actions of other people do not let you end up with permanent harm or unresolvable hardship, although obviously they can. It is best to recognize the cause of the negative actions and then, by defining it, find forgiveness. Doing this will lead to stronger and longer relationships, happier outlooks and a generally positive life. Basically, if you don't end up in jail, maimed, or in the poorhouse, why be angry if you can find a way to forgive? There are a variety of reasons for people to do bad things to you, here are three examples.
Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice.
Never assume malice when ignorance will suffice.
People do things a certain way because that is what has yielded good results for them in the past.
Understanding that these may be the underlying reason that someone acted poorly towards you makes it easier to forgive them for that action and to help them understand how these things affect you.
Actions by other people that leave you in significant hardship or receiving harm, perhaps don't need to be forgiven. One may ask how does forgiveness for these action help humanity? How does it reduce suffering and increase happiness? That answer could very well be that forgiveness does not accomplish that goal and should not be dispensed. Forgiveness for negative actions that result in permanent harm may not better humanity, community or even family. Instead another form of closure will be needed. I personally think jail is pretty good, I wish jail time for horrific deeds resulted in a lifetime of breaking rocks in the winter, but I guess we don't all get what we want.
"Water under the Bridge", is a healthy attitude can be achieved by remembering that if the result of someones poor actions is not long lasting, then you are truly not affected affected by it, no matter how much it may feel like you are. Understanding the mechanism by which the person is choosing to act help for you to achieve forgiveness. But it is not your only choice and no one says its required. Seek closure, not necessarily forgiveness.
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