Why I Wanted to Skewer Someone This Week
The Karma Project
Let me tell you something. It’s one thing to Accept Defeat when you are wrong or when you have no other choice about the situation. It’s quite another to do it when you know, without a blazing doubt, that you are right.
I know this because, this past weekend, I got a Google alert that my name had appeared in a blog. I clicked on the alert, and it took me to a blog post that flamed a Woman’s Day article where I’d been quoted. About my particular quote, the blogger wrote, “The Titanic was in better shape after whacking the iceberg than relationships based on these beliefs are!”
I think the blogger went on to write some other negative things about my advice, but I was already having heart palpitations at that line so I stopped reading.
At first I thought about leaving the following comment on the guy’s blog: “Well obviously more people agree with my advice than agree with yours, given your Alexa rank is 10 million and mine waaaaay higher than that. So there, Mr. Smarty Pants!”
I really wanted to leave that comment. Oh, I wanted to.
But I held off.
I did because, if I’ve learned nothing else in my past year of going to the Dharma class, I have learned this: anger begets more anger. The only exception to that rule is anger directed at an enlightened lama, because enlightened lamas are above all of that pettiness.
Me? I’m not anywhere near enlightened. Obviously.
Anyway, I also held back because I knew that I would never agree with Mr. Smarty Pants and he would never agree with me. It’s pointless for the two of us to argue.
But I couldn’t just let the guy tell the entire Internet that taking my advice was like hitting an iceberg and dying a very terrifying and very cold death.
Right? Are you with me on this?
So I paced back and forth for a while, trying to decide what to do about the situation.
The words “accept defeat” and “disengage” kept pinging back and forth in my brain, but so did the words “revenge” and, well, something I just can’t type for fear of offending someone.
Eventually the “Accept Defeat” part of my brain won out, but just barely. I decided to Accept Defeat by writing a nice comment on the guy’s blog. After all, bloggers love comments (hint, hint), and this guy didn’t have any on his site. If he were anywhere near as pitifully insecure as I am, then my comment would make his day and I would be one tiny step closer to enlightenment.
So I sat down at my computer. I tried to read his post more closely, but my heart stated racing again and those bad words started pinging around in my head again. Before I knew it the only thing I could think to type to him was, “I’m sorry you didn’t agree with my advice.”
Somehow I didn’t think that would work, especially if you could hear my tone of voice. It was soaking wet with sarcasm.
Crap. Crap. Crap. What to do?
I thought on it, and I thought on it, and I thought on it.
When my Dharma teacher had told me about Accepting Defeat, she’d said that I would need to balance it with wisdom. For instance, let’s say Jeffrey Dahmer were still alive and not in prison. Let’s say I woke one night to find him in my home, and he was saying something to the effect of, “I’m really in the mood for right arm tonight. I’m thinking yours looks mighty tasty.”
Should I cut off my right arm just to make Jeffrey Dahmer happy? No, I need my right arm for many things—to type (so I can get paid and put food on the table that my family can eat), to hold my daughter, and many other things that are not occurring to me at the moment. If I gave him my right arm, that would mean that I would, by default, be inflicting pain and unhappiness on myself, my husband, my daughter, and all of my beloved blog readers who would feel empty inside because I could no longer type up blog posts.
That would be a tragedy, yes?
More important, if I gave in and gave him what he wanted, then he would get away only to inflict more pain on someone else.
So for my own self-preservation and for the good of the entire world, I would rightly fight like hell to keep my right arm attached to my body.
Wisdom says that you don’t give away more than you have to give. Wisdom says that you do what you need to do to be strong, rested, and happy. Wisdom says that you must take care of you first, otherwise you will run out of you to give away to others.
Taking care of you means you DO stand up for yourself. Taking care of you means you DO ask for what you need.
But it doesn’t mean you lash out. It doesn’t mean you seek revenge. It doesn’t mean you match anger with anger, hatred with hatred, or stupidity with stupidity.
Makes sense, right? It did for me, too.
In order to sort out the wisdom from the defeat, my Dharma teacher had suggested I ask myself two questions:
- What is my intention?
- What is the greater good?
So, I did. When I thought about leaving a comment on Mr. Smarty Pants’ blog, I realized that my intention was less than noble. My intention? It was to bring him down, down, down. More important, it would achieve no good. I might feel better temporarily, but that’s about it.
So, in yoda speak, no comment I would leave.
Instead, I decided to wish Mr. Smarty Pants some happiness when I meditated (which I have not done just yet, but I SWEAR I am going to do) and I would blog about it here. In the blog, I would not link to his blog, because doing such a thing would mean that I wanted my dear and wonderful readers to click through and flame Mr. Smarty Pants for me. No, I would not do that. My intention for blogging about it was to start an open discussion about how to handle such tough matters.
And my intention was also that possibly all of us to (or perhaps just me) could take a step closer to that place the lamas call enlightenment.
So, my lovelies, I would love to know your thoughts. What should I have done? What would you have done? How do you balance Accepting Defeat with Wisdom?
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.