There’s a Reddit thread called “Am I The Asshole?”
It’s a forum where people can post a situation they’ve found themselves in and request comments and judgment calls from readers. Sometimes the person posting is deemed “An Asshole,” and others are declared “NTA” or Not the Asshole.
I’ve been in an introspective space lately, and the idea of right and wrong, positive and negative, keeps coming to the forefront of my thoughts.
The homes, schools, Religions, and communities we grow up in have all fed into our judgment calls in this arena. I’m just not sure any of them are “right,” especially in their terminology.
Let me explain.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as a positive or negative emotion. I believe emotions are like an early warning system that lets us know when something needs some attention. Anger, embarrassment, joy, insecurity, they all simply ARE.
It’s what you DO with the emotion that can be positive or negative.
Say you’re upset about a conversation you’re in with a partner. It’s not going well, and you’re getting more frustrated the longer you talk. As your frustration builds, so may anger and any other myriad of emotions.
The emotions are alerting you to an issue. What are you going to do?
You can allow your tongue to speak anything coming to mind, which may or may not be the kindest relationship-building statement. There may even be a question as to whether or not it’s based in truth.
You can swallow your emotions and work to keep the peace without expressing what you’re truly feeling and experiencing in the moment.
You could stomp out, walk away, cool off, and analyze what your emotions were telling you and what experiences were feeding into the exchange; you have a myriad of choices. The action you choose feeds into the consequences, which can positively or negatively impact the direction you’d like that part of your life to go in.
Going back to the Reddit forum I mentioned in the beginning, we ask a foundation of our peers to guide our actions based on general consensus. We’re either finding validation in our actions or judged for our choices based on popular belief. AND WE SEEK IT!?!
Where are our own moral compasses? Where is the personal ownership and integrity?
No one outside of yourself knows the life you’ve lived or the challenges you’ve survived through. No one knows what goes into your choices and actions. No one knows your heart or the path you are walking. Why ask anyone to judge?
And in the same vein, who are you to judge anyone else? If you haven’t “Walked a mile in their shoes,” how can you remotely begin to assume how they should live their lives? If you want the freedom to live your own truth, you have to give the same latitude to those around you.
What is “right” or “wrong,” “positive” or “negative” for me may not resonate at all with you or the next person. And vice versa.
When you spend time frustrated with someone, and you label them one way or another, check in to see if you’re attempting to change them and bring them around to your way of thinking. Are you seeking validation in your own belief system? What about theirs is giving you pause? Can you seek to understand where they’re coming from? Keep in mind understanding doesn’t mean you have to agree. You CAN choose to agree to disagree, leaving hostility and judgment aside.
My husband and I have the phrase “Being an impartial neighbor.” You care for them; you’d give them eggs or sugar if they were baking and ran out; you’d run over and help out if they were on vacation and had a water leak; you may hang out at a neighborhood BBQ. There are a myriad of situations you may come together for one reason or another.
And yet, they live their own life, and you live yours. They may have VERY different life experiences, expectations, and goals. The beauty is you can be kind and supportive without having a vested interest in everything they do.
Deciding that everything is “good or Bad” can precipitate an attitude of constant judgment. Is it “good” I was productive today? Maybe not! Maybe I’ve got an injury, and it’s better to rest. Was it “Good “I made dinner out of veggie nuggets and tater tots? Was it “Good” I did this or that?
To be honest, I’d rather not judge others. And I’d like to apply the same sentiment to myself.
Let it go.
Things simply ARE.
And THAT, my friends, is where I choose to BE.
You are not alone. You are not an island.
No suffering in silence.