The difference between friends and enemies is primarily how much tolerance they will show us, or how much we will show them.
It’s a worthwhile meditation to consciously look for the role that tolerance plays in our lives. How tolerant are those around us? When doing this meditation, people often find that their friends that are very tolerant of the challenges we present, are also slow to forgive and forget if something does finally blow things up.
Conversely, another group will often get madder, faster, but their forgiveness happens almost immediate afterwards. This spectrum of reactions happens based on each person’s propensity for thinking.
The quicker-to-anger group has a rapid, strong reaction that acts like a pressure release valve that quickly reduces the problem to a manageable level. In essence there is an explosion of thought, then quiet concentration on a solution.
For those that show a lot of tolerance, that is usually accomplished via a detailed justification narrative. We feel an impulse to move away from poor treatment, but some of us learn to restrain ourselves with narrative ropes that hold back our feelings.
But those narratives build over time and they can get to the point of being suffocating. Pressure can build until finally, after being held down for years by those justifying narratives, the true feelings of the otherwise tolerant person can explode forward.
Just like the tolerant justifications indicated a propensity for over-thinking, the anger will be handled the same way. All of that thought-powered anger and resentment can last for years.
When it comes to facing life’s challenges, those that meditate more about the world and ruminate less about themselves tend to react too quickly and strongly to difficulty, but they recover quickly and strongly too.
Those that meditate less about the world, and ruminate more about their comparative place in that world, will often react more slowly and tolerantly, but then explode and then take longer to recover.
Neither group is right or wrong in how they face life. But they do approach it differently. So it’s worth thinking about our relationships in these terms. Because many times we’ll say we have an issue with a person, when in reality we only struggle with their method of dealing with challenges.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.