Walk a Mile in the Shoes of Your Unrighteous
Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations , Lifehacker’s weekly dip in the pool of stoic wisdom and a guide to using its waters to meditate and improve your life.
This week’s choice belongs to Marcus Aurelius. He asks you to change your point of view before getting angry at the actions of others:
“Whenever someone has done something bad to you, immediately think about what idea of good or evil they had in doing so. Because when you see this, you will feel compassion instead of surprise or anger. After all, you may have the same ideas about good and evil, or similar, in which case you will make a discount on what they did. But if you no longer hold the same views, you will more readily agree with their mistake. “
What does it mean
If someone has offended you, consider their point of view and their intentions. If you can do this, you will avoid recklessness and anger, and choose compassion instead. After all, you could have done the same yourself. If not, then you’ve at least taken the time to put yourself in their shoes, and that can relieve grief on both sides.
What to take from there
Think about this: “right” and “wrong” are abstract concepts, social constructs created over the years by influential people in accordance with their personal views of the world. But what may be right for one person is wrong for another. You may not know what it means to be someone else, but you can always try to understand them to some extent. Never forget the power of perspective.
When someone has offended you in something, stop and think about their intentions for at least 10-15 seconds. Never react immediately except in an emergency. Ask yourself if they intended to hurt you? Or did they just do what they thought was right? Perhaps they just wanted to help, or they misunderstood and got confused. Or maybe their circumstances prompted them to take actions that you decided to take offense at. Keep your anger at bay and let your mind take the helm. If, after some consideration, you still think they did something wrong, educate them, not punish them . But if you do acknowledge that their actions come from a different perspective, and not as something that should not have hurt or hurt you, find grace within and let it go, especially if this was their first such crime.