Tough Choices

Sometimes, we are put in a position where we have to make very hard choices. These often involve situations where whatever we choose, someone gets hurt.

One way of dealing with choices like that is to consider who can handle the hurt more, and hurt that person rather than the person who can’t handle it as well. Seems logical enough, but there are a few reasons why that’s actually not ideal.

Pain is a teacher. We learn from the situations that hurt us more than the times when we are comfortable. The person who can handle being hurt better is probably less in need of learning from the associated pain, which also means that the person who can’t handle it as well probably needs the lesson that much more. It’s always difficult to be the source of pain, but it also makes us the source of learning. Choosing to avoid hurting someone means choosing to deprive them of the associated lesson.

Another factor is that you affect your relationship with whomever you choose to hurt. The person who can handle the pain is probably also a more forgiving and understanding person. So choosing to hurt them means undermining your relationship with someone who is a more positive force in your life.

Ultimately, these counterpoints are directed towards people who are externally focused; what I mean by that is, those of us who focus on how our actions affect others. Because of that, I have to address the bigger issue. At some point, when we focus on others, we eventually learn that it’s unsustainable. We realize that we neglect ourselves, constantly focusing on what other people want or need. So I hope that the question of “who will get hurt more” can transform into “what is best for me in this situation”, and the question of who gets hurt and who learns what can be left up to the universe. In the end, if it’s in our own best interest, it will be in the best interest of those close to us, because sacrificing our own lives for others leads to us having nothing left to give. We undermine our ability to have a continued benefit in the lives of others. So being “selfish” is actually not selfish at all. It is actually quite brave to be willing to allow others to be hurt by our actions – and to learn from that pain.

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