“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation.” -Epictetus
Your life is your own, yes, but your life does not only affect yourself. Every action has the potential to change someone around you. Those actions will determine how you affect those individuals, whether it is good or bad. Often, you are not aware of these changes in others. We are so focused on ourselves that we fail to notice the hurt, pain, or even joy in those around us, let alone if we are the cause of those emotions.
There is a reverse to this as well and that is how we act in response to the actions of others around us. Like Epictetus said in the quote above, if we are provoked, we are not guilt free in having been provoked. we allowed ourselves to react in a way that we took offense. The same can be said for joy. We can choose to have joy and that joy can be derived from the actions of others – even their negative actions.
I read an interesting article online today which spurred this post. It is called, The Real Reason We Need to Stop Trying to Protect Everyone’s Feelings by Ryan Holiday. At the end of his post he makes this statement based on the quote I listed above:
“He said that some 1,900 years ago. Even then we felt that it was easier to police the outside than examine our inside.
Control and discipline of one’s own reactions make for a successful person and a functioning society. I don’t think you want to live in a world where that isn’t the expectation of each of us…”
Especially as we are going through this holiday season, I want us, myself included, to pay very careful attention to how we react to those around us and how we affect those around us as well; not that we need to take everyone’s feelings into account before we do anything, but to be sensitive to the fact that we have power over others whether we realize it or not.