This is possibly the worst title ever for a post, but I couldn’t think of something witty to make this point. It’s serious business.

I’ve learned a lot in the past two years about the hazards of being offended. Have a look at The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. He talks about the difference between how we know ourselves to be, and the way other people must, and do, see us. Since they don’t have the privilege of residing inside our heads and hearts, they often make a misjudgment about us.  We can allow ourselves to just let it roll away! They can’t possibly know the real us. (That’s a ginormous paraphrase, but just think of the freedom of letting go of the judgement of others!)

That’s not the subject of this post, but it’s an important concept to grasp in preparation for my next proposal: We do and say things all the time that hurt other people.

Ouch! But unfortunately, its true. We may not mean it, but that doesn’t matter. In the same way that other people can’t understand who we are, they also might not understand what we mean. Or say. Or do.

When they get offended we say, “They shouldn’t get mad. I didn’t mean it that way.” But the emotion has already occurred. They’ve already felt it. Logic, arguments, and defenses are not going to erase that hurt.

So what do we do?

Listen up: this is a choice.

Why spend a moment getting worked up about it?

Acknowledge their feelings. Say we’re sorry. Let them have their experience and opinion. It’s a real thing for them, whether or not it’s justified. Isn’t it better to stop the bleeding than let the sore fester and grow? Look forward. Which future do you choose?

If you choose justice over peace, then look to your own pride and ask yourself, what am I getting out of this? The ability to be right? (And it’s just you who thinks you’re right, so what’s the fun in that?)

I choose peace, compassion, forgiveness. And a “funner” future with the ones I love. We all win!

(Photo: Peace, quartz, and new growth in Kauaiian paradise.)