By Seija Grant, MEd CP, RP (Q)
This article topic was requested and I have been thinking long and hard about the meaning of this quote, and how to discuss it. I have recently come across examples of people making decisions to further their careers, or make steps towards their goals that as a side effect, harm others. When I say harm others, I do not mean bodily harm, but more of an emotional wound, relational injury or impacting others’ beliefs. Some of the sentiments related to this topic that have been relayed to me include: hurt feelings, breach of trust, and feeling as though they have been stabbed in the back. None of these things have a positive impact on a person, unless it is to increase their resilience. However, if you are one of these people who have been affected by another’s decision to better themselves, then I have some recommendations that you may want to try out to ease the pain.
I may start sounding like a broken record, but I truly believe we need more of this in our world: try on some empathy for size. What I mean by that is, put yourself in the other’s shoes. Can you see how they might have come to this decision? Do you think they intended to hurt you personally? Might this have been a once in a lifetime opportunity for them? Usually, this technique can help us to understand both sides of the story instead of being stuck in a one-sided loop, creating more resentment and anger towards the situation and the person who had ‘wronged’ you. Also, it is a great exercise to practice that may cause you to have a deeper understanding of the human psyche.
Another idea is not to take it personally. Of course, this is easier said than done. As humans we are hard-wired for survival…however, sometimes these reflexes work to our detriment. If a person has wronged us, we are weary to let them do it again by putting up walls to protect ourselves. Learning from our mistakes is a great thing, but not if it means closing yourself off to the world. Instead of keeping it to yourself, isolating, brooding, emotional stuffing, or passive aggressive behavior—try talking about it to someone you trust, increasing your positive relations with people in your life. However, there is a thin line. Some venting can be beneficial, but don’t become engulfed in the negativity--get it out and move on. Try to challenge yourself by coming up with a different way you may be able to view the situation, such as finding a silver lining, or a positive flip-side. Changing your negative thoughts to a more positive framework can go a long way in increasing your overall happiness.
People aren't against you; they are for themselves. The most dangerous risk of all - the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later. He who conquers others is strong, he who conquers himself is mighty.
Another thing to consider is that we can’t read people’s minds. Simply reminding yourself of this can assist you to let go of those ideas we had about the person’s malicious intent or double agent status. Since you can’t read their mind, you don’t actually know what their intent is, unless they have told you. The first step to correcting this unhelpful thinking style is to notice you are doing it, and STOP the thought in its tracks. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself, is this a fact or an opinion? Is there any evidence that the person thinks this of you? If it’s your opinion and you have projected that on the other…well then, it’s not a fact, and probably not true.
Another technique that may bring you some peace is coming to some acceptance of the situation. Sometimes situations are unpleasant and we can’t do anything to change the outcome. The best thing YOU can do for your own mental health is to embrace radical acceptance. What is radical acceptance, you ask? Well, it is about accepting life on life’s terms, not being resistant to things you cannot change or choose not to change. The caveat is this requires practice, and it may not be easy to do at first. However, accepting something does not mean you agree with it—do not confuse the two. Unfortunately, life is full of ups and downs, and we must also embrace the downs at times. Try giving yourself permission to feel unhappy about it, but to also accept the situation (eg. “I do not approve of this, but that’s OK, I can’t change what happened.”) This should provide you with some relief and allow you to let go of some of the negativity burning inside of you. Check out this article for some more info: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201207/radical-acceptance
Everybody deserves their own happiness, and at times we all must make decisions that could cause others pain. Please try to encourage yourself to be your best self, letting go of pain that no longer serves you, and embracing positive change. Who knows, this situation may end up in a happy outcome for you and others around you (we can’t predict the future!). Be compassionate towards yourself and others, and the rest will follow.
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