Other people are one of the more popular and consistent topics on this blog and the subject of much of the conversation I have with other people. Not in a gossipy way, but in a how-do-I-deal-with-this kind of way.
It makes sense. Other people are what make life worth living, and what makes life so very frustrating much of the time. We cannot control them, but their decisions affect us. It happens on a small scale where someone decides to skip their shift, so you get called in or send their kid to daycare with strep throat, so everyone else gets it. It goes all the way up to the global scale where the actions of one or two people cost millions of people their lives. The story of history is often that of one man (it’s usually men) making decisions that ruin everything for everybody.
I am currently dealing with a situation in which another person’s unwise choices are making things difficult for me. I feel angry and betrayed, and I am experiencing a deep frustration over the amount of time and energy it is going to require to sort this other person’s foolishness out. These emotions are present. This is a fact. It is not good or bad or right or wrong. They are simply there. My mind is trying to sort out what to do in response to something it had no hand in and no control over.
I have this inherent desire to enact a scorched earth policy and be done with it. It seems simple and satisfying, and I have used it many times in the past. It was effective if my goal was to be left alone with nothing but ash around me.
That was often my goal.
These days, I understand that I need to sit with these emotions, without believing them to be a reliable indicator of what the best course of action is. I acknowledge that I am remaining in this situation by choice and any unhappiness or pain it is causing me is a result of my perspective on things and my attachment to outcomes I cannot control: another person’s actions. I have to be honest and admit that I am taking something personally, which is an act of ego and pride.
What to do
In short, my task in this is to accept what is and look for constructive choices. My task is to act in a way that offers compassion and peace and reconciliation instead of launching the nukes. It is my job to write a blog like this to remind myself of the skillful course of action because my mind wants to forget it every few seconds.
We will almost certainly always have other people in our lives, and we would be devastated and desolate if we did not. They will inevitably bring pain and difficulty with them, but they are worth it.
At least I hope so…
Have a great day.