One of the rare but important positive aspects of growing older, for those of us who’ve experienced it and find it useful, is an increasing self-awareness. Sometimes we’re made aware of things about ourselves that we wish we didn’t know or that we wish could be different. For example, the tendency to lash out as someone who is trying to “push your buttons” is one of my areas and it’s not so much that it’s difficult not to return the volley it’s that I know that once I get started I will use my sharp tongue to inflict maximum humiliation based on my knowledge and intuition of the other party’s own hot buttons. The latter part is what causes a problem for me. It’s that I’m good at finding the right buttons to push.
So today I had occasion to restrain myself from pushing back and it wasn’t easy. I had to count to ten a couple of times, delete messages I’d started writing, and phone a friend. That is why it occurred to me to comment today about the fact that turning the other cheek sounds like such an effortless instruction – you barely need to move a muscle. Yet, the true practice of turning the other cheek takes a tremendous amount of strength. Amazing, isn’t it?
The other thing I realized is that those we would most readily attack back are those we don’t feel any respect for–and we’re frequently overcome with the feeling of “and they had the unmitigated GALL to do this or that to ME!”
In the heat of the moment maybe the snappy comeback or scathing reply feels good but in the long run being the better person feels so much nicer I think.