Saturday, June 09, 2007


The closer you are to an irritating situation, the more certain you will be that the other person is acting purposefully. It will seem that they must know at some level that they are annoying, or must be so uncaring of you as to be showing contempt.

If you have distance, you tend more to see the other person as responding to impersonal circumstances of upbringing, recent stressors, or disadvantages beyond their control. If you get too far away, you will attribute very little agency to them at all, and be annoyed in turn by the folks close to the situation who insist that the offender is acting "on purpose."

Neither is ever wholly true. Our freedom and motives are always mixed. It is only possible in the extremest circumstances for our actions to be entirely free or entirely determined, entirely base or entirely altruistic. Perhaps they are never purely possible at all.

This Public Service Announcement was brought to you to remind you: neither entirely blame or entirely excuse the actions of others, nor entirely blame or entirely excuse your own actions. Hey, come back! Don't just mildly agree with this and move on. This applies to someone in your life today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jung says somewhere in his letters that there is a perfect distance for every relationship. So along with understanding the "responding to impersonal circumstances" aspect of irritants that are nearby, it is also simply sane, creative, and compassionate, to get some distance, physical, mental, emotional. Strategic withdrawal sometimes by investigating whether one's own "need" of the person has been allowed to become overblown.

Making allowances for the other person, and for oneself.