Friday, March 11, 2016

From my Amigo Nikos: As I have heard elsewhere, "hurt people hurt people."


"The French philosopher Émile-Auguste Chartier (know as Alain), was said to be the finest teacher in France in the first half of the 20th century. And he developed a formula for calming himself and his pupils down in the face of irritating people. ‘Never say that people are evil,’ he wrote, ‘You just need to look for the pin.’ What he meant was: look for the source of the agony that drives a person to behave in appalling ways. The calming thought is to imagine that they are suffering off-stage, in some area we cannot see. To be mature is to learn to imagine this zone of pain, in spite of the lack of much available evidence. They may not look as if they were maddened by an inner psychological ailment: they may look chirpy and full of themselves. But the ‘pin’ simply must be there – or they would not be causing us harm."

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On Being Unintentionally Hurt

One of the most fundamental paths to calm is the power to hold on, even in very challenging situations, to a distinction between what someone does – and what they meant to do.
In law, the difference is enshrined in the contrasting concepts of murder and manslaughter. The result may be the same; the body is inert in a pool of blood. But we collectively feel it makes a huge difference what the perpetrator’s intentions were.

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We care about intentions for a very good reason: because if it was deliberate, then the perpetrator will be an ongoing and renewable source of danger from whom the community must be protected. But if it was accidental, then the perpetrator will be inclined to deep apology and restitution, which renders punishment and rage far less necessary. 

Picture yourself in a restaurant where the waiter has spilt a glass of wine on your (new) laptop. The damage is severe and your rage starts to mount. But whether this was an accident or a willing strategy is key to an appropriate response. A concerted desire to spill signals that the waiter needs to be confronted head on. You may have to take radical defensive steps: like shouting at them or calling for help. But if it was an accident, then the person isn’t your enemy. 

There’s no need to swear at them. In fact, it makes a lot of sense to be forgiving and kindly, because benevolence will imminently be heading your way.

Motives are, therefore, crucial. But unfortunately, we’re seldom very good at perceiving what motives happen to be involved in the incidents that hurt us. We are easily and wildly mistaken. We see intention where there was none and escalate and confront when no strenuous or agitated responses are warranted.

Make the jump here to read the full article