“Whenever you take offense at someone’s wrongdoing, immediately turn to your own similar failings, such as seeing money as good, or pleasure, or a little fame — whatever form it takes. By thinking on this, you’ll quickly forget your anger, considering also what compels them — for what else could they do? Or, if you are able, remove their compulsion.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 10.30
When you’re upset with someone because they did the wrong thing, think back to the times when you did wrong or failed in some way. Look in the mirror and consider why you failed, and what your intentions were in that moment.
Chances are you didn’t intend the worst, and likely neither did the person that you’re upset with, as we’re reminded today in The Daily Stoic.
Being reminded of our own failings — and the reasons behind them — should give us new perspective, and help us understand what compels others too. Most people are trying to do the right thing even if they don’t succeed at it. Expecting the best of others will help cement that new perspective. And it will help us have mercy and compassion when analyzing others’ faults.
In keeping with the idea of wisdom that comes from unusual sources, I want to highlight again the verse in the Bible about removing the plank from your own eye before criticizing others. Instead of re-stating it all here, I’ll encourage you to read it in the post I’ve linked to, as it’s best explained there.