How to Remain Calm With People

One of the most fundamental paths to calm is the power to hold on, even in very challenging situations, to a distinction between what someone does – and what they meant to do.

We care about intentions for a very good reason: because if it was deliberate, then the perpetrator will be an ongoing and renewable source of danger from whom the community must be protected

But if it was accidental, then the perpetrator will be inclined to deep apology and restitution, which renders punishment and rage far less necessary

Motives are, therefore, crucial. But unfortunately, we’re seldom very good at perceiving what motives happen to be involved in the incidents that hurt us. We are easily and wildly mistaken. We see intention where there was none and escalate and confront when no strenuous or agitated responses are warranted.

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On Being Out of Touch With One’s Feelings

We look at ourselves as a single being, but in reality, there are (at least) two distinct parts to mental life: a feeling self and an observer self.  Sometimes the two are aligned, at other points, it’s far trickier.

Reasons it is difficult for the observing self to report accurately on feelings:

1. We are afflicted background ideas about the unacceptability of particular feelings.  We might worry that no decent person could be enthusiastic about making money or unable to cope at work, tempted by an affair or still upset over a break up three years ago.  Our sexual impulses may not fit the definition of a good boy or girl.

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