Someone annoys you, they say something or do something and it’s stupid and it winds you up.You get cross, your stomach clenches, your brow knots up, you say something to point out their stupidity and it comes out strangulated sounding and high-pitched, but it needed to be said.You’re still angry but they needed to be told, and you rightly took on the task of doing something which my dad used to call, telling them their fortune, which means that as well as explaining how mistaken they were in what they said or did, you let them know a bit about where this kind of thing will lead them, somewhere where all the idiots in the world will ultimately find themselves.
They’re WRONG and you’re RIGHT
To your dismay the object of your scorn, the lower life-form who inflicted this aggravation on you, rather than having a light-bulb moment of self-realisation that they are indeed mistaken and withdrawing from their previous course of behaviour, they counter-attack and produce something even more provoking from their arsenal of lame retorts, and the result of that is that your blood pressure goes up another notch, you can hardly breath, you’re so caught up in the outrage of having to deal with such crappy behaviour, and you wouldn’t mind so much but they are just so bloody wrong, they’re WRONG and you’re RIGHT.
It doesn’t feel right though, does it? All this tightness and prickly heat and your head feeling full and swollen.It feels awful and it feels awfully familiar, tediously familiar, not only familiar but as if it’s drawing you in, as if you aren’t able to control its inevitable outcome.And that outcome, if you’re honest, is rarely productive.
So what can you do differently?How can you right the wrongs of others, which is clearly your responsibility?
That’s just it, though, isn’t it? It’s not your responsibility.And that’s just part of it, because you do have a responsibility, but your real responsibility is to yourself.
Now this might seem counter-intuitive, but if you read ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell, and observe life generally, you might find that intuitive behaviour isn’t always the most helpful-indeed, according to Gladwell it is often base and beset by deeply held prejudices, prejudices which if we wish to question, assess and avoid we need to engage our reasoning brain, and this isn’t given an opportunity to happen when we are feeling hot-headed and impulsive.
So this is why what I ask you to do instead is to let them off the hook.
Letting them off the hook means allowing them their transgression, and it also means sparing yourself from the wear and tear of a hit of adrenaline that has nowhere to go except to course around inside you stressing you and leaving you depleted emotionally and physically and, don’t forget, you didn’t ‘win’ anyway.The only winner was that old dynamic of attack and defence on both sides leading both parties, you and the idiot in question, towards upset and weariness.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but I ask you to just give it a try.Try it for a couple of weeks and notice the difference in how you’re coping with life, and importantly, how you’re feeling.How you’re feeling, your state, is important because it’s an indicator of whether you are engaged in your life in the best way for you or not.The better you feel, the happier you’ll be, and crucially, the more you’ll be leading your life and your relationships productively and beneficially.
Another benefit of letting them off the hook is that ultimately you’ll also be letting yourself off.The response you have to others and their perceived ‘wrongness’ will be reflected in the way you regard yourself, and the more you see yourself in a good light and allow yourself to make mistakes, learn and move on, the more you’ll enjoy and appreciate your time, your turn at life.
Of course there are times when we are in a position where to take action or to take a stand against someone’s offensive or destructive behaviour is necessary.The more you let the other ones off the hook, the ones whose infringements are lower on the scale of injustice, the more you’ll have the resilience and reason required to deal with the few who do threaten to cause damage to you or other people.