Things I Should Teach My Son III

As I age, it’s becoming more interesting to watch my sons’ trials, especially comparing their reactions to mine. Here’s one: a painful social situation that gives rise to a temptation to remonstrate with a former friend or acquaintance. In the short run, giving in to the temptation feels good. But in the long run, it’s terrible choice.

Angry words about past hurts are a waste of time for the hurt party; the better choice is the uncomfortable and lonely high road. This looks like:

  1. Forgiveness, even if that is never asked for by, nor expressed to, the other party. Forgiving and forgetting past hurts is better; this is science.
  2. You’re likely to see this person again in a social context (reunion, Christmas party, etc.) At a minimum, offer a friendly hello. He or she should walk away believing you want to maintain friendly terms. Silence = hostility in this situation. “Hi, great to see you,” is a good start. See here.
  3. Never gossip. If you need to talk about the painful situation, talk only to family or to the most trusted friend.

This is all type 1 advice. I never received it but wish I had (I probably wouldn’t have listened.) Acting out on a grudge has never produced any kind of good result.

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