Changing your perspective can be the difference between suffering and happiness. I was recently in a conversation via the comment section of my blog that got me thinking. It was a line of thought I had had many times, but this time I felt a clearer understanding of one aspect of it. I do a lot of discussing online and I very often see/read people say how they are upset by someone else’s choice of words, or their position or any number of things. Now, it is clear that the intent of making the comment is to garner some sort of apology from the person using the “wrong word” or what have you.
The problem here is that the person who was upset or offended has placed their personal responsibility on someone else. If the first person recognizes the error of their ways and thinks to themselves, “oh, they are right… that is not the word I meant,” and they apologize, the offended feels better and like they had the right and even the duty to call the first person on their communication style. That is until their next experience of it.
However, if the “offender” does not feel they used the wrong word and stands by what they said, the offended is now left to deal with not only the first offense but now another one- that of being ignored.
The bottom line to this is that as long as a person feels their happiness and acceptance of life is outside their control, they will suffer at whims of those around them. People who feel offended and believe someone else is responsible for that, will never have a solid feeling of security. They might state they are offended by a word and they receive an apology, so they feel reassured that they were not only correct in the feeling they had but in the action they took to point out their feelings.
We are responsible for our own feelings. We are in charge of our own suffering.
So, instead of complaining to a person for their choice of words, we can simply change our perspective. If I am offended by the use of profanity (which I am NOT), rather than bring that to the attention of hundreds or thousands of people I might encounter who use profanity often, I can change my thoughts on the situation. I wont use profanity myself, in theory, but I can tell myself that these people don’t look at it as I do. They were not raised with the same family and the same standards. We are simply different people. I may like blue and they may like pink. In the grand scheme of things, it makes no difference. They did not use the word to intentionally offend me, as they are a perfect stranger and have no idea what my moral compass is. The same line of thought can be used for any needed change of perspective. If we are not happy or are feeling mental anguish, and believe it is someone else’s fault, we can never be truly free of suffering.
If I get flipped off on the highway, I can check my speed, check to see if one of my blinkers is on etc. But when I determine that I have done nothing to elicit the response, I need to let it go. I can change my perspective and make some silly assumption that help me to just be happy. They hate the color of my car, thought I was someone else, were actually scratching their eyebrow with their middle finger… But my feelings on the situation are completely my own. If I become ticked off and take that anger with me, that is my fault. I cannot, as a responsible person, be angry and upset and blame the person who flipped me off.
My happiness and acceptance of myself is my responsibility. It is my job to take care of me and my feelings. Placing that responsibility on someone else weakens me and sets me up for a lifetime of further suffering as I look to others for my happiness. It takes practice, but is definitely worth the effort.