Friday, August 21, 2015


Sometimes when a person gets angry at a friend, coworker, or family member, he's acting as if he already knows the final complete truth about what he's angry over. And it means that he’s not even thinking about the fact that he could be wrong. He's not open to changing his mind about it.

But he could easily be wrong. It's super common. Even when he feels justified.

Their logic goes like this. Somebody hurt me. So I'm gonna hurt him back. It's revenge. It's justice. I have to hurt him back to make him do what I think is right. I'm justified.

But this is all wrong. You’re seeing the world through the lens of the win/lose mentality. You're not infallible. You're not omniscient. You don't have the final complete truth. You're not justified. Revenge is evil. What you have is a fallible guess about the truth. You could easily be wrong about it. So your actions should reflect that. And they don't. So there is a big contradiction between your ideas and reality.

You should be calm. There's no hurry. You need to figure out what the problem is and figure out a solution. Something that everybody involved agrees with wholeheartedly. So that means each person involved has no objections to acting on the idea they agreed on. A win/win.

To illustrate this mistaken thinking with a concrete example, consider a situation where two siblings Chris and Paul hit each other and are complaining to their parent about it.

Chris: Paul hit me!

Parent: uh, Paul why did you hit Chris?

Paul: because he hit me.

Parent: you mean revenge? … you want to do revenge? … you think that’s the right thing to do? [1]

Paul: [no reply]

Parent: so, Chris why did you hit Paul?

Chris: it was an accident. I was swinging my arms and he was walking by me and I didn’t see him.

Parent: ok, so let’s review. Chris hit Paul by accident, and Paul hit Chris back on purpose for revenge. Or, Paul, is it that you think he hit you on purpose?

Paul: I don’t know.

Parent: Paul, so you agree that Chris could have done it by accident?

Paul: yes.

Parent: ok so let’s review again. Paul hit Chris while Paul hadn’t ruled out that Chris did it by accident. So Chris didn’t do anything wrong and Paul was wrong to hit Chris.


[1] To clarify, this is a situation where Chris does not have a history of wanting revenge or otherwise being negligent with respect to trying to avoid hurting other people.

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