“Do away with the opinion I am harmed, and the harm is cast away too. Do away with being harmed, and harm disappears.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 4.7
Have you been wronged? Well, that’s actually just your opinion. And if you can adjust that opinion, then the wrong goes away too. Poof!
It seems a bit obnoxious to suggest that being harmed is all in your head, but that’s kind of what Marcus is saying in today’s quote from The Daily Stoic.
He’s saying that whether or not you’ve been hurt is kind of your decision, and that you can easily decide that you haven’t been harmed — in which case you’ll probably feel a lot better.
You can’t control what other people do. The universal truth is that there will always be jerks, and the best we can do is be prepared for negative people when we encounter them.
But your reaction is one of the few things you can control in this world; therefore you can choose how to react to rude people. In effect, harm is in the eye of the beholder. If you choose not to view it as such, then it ceases to be harm.
In the end, harm is subjective, isn’t it? It’s only hurtful or rude because we say it is. Our pain comes from our reaction to it, and that’s a decision.
We can easily accept that the person didn’t intend to be rude, or that they meant well. We can allow that they didn’t realize how impolite they sounded. We can consider that they might be having a bad day, and remind ourselves that we have the ability to brush off their insult if we so choose. It’s a choice!