Don't take crap from people- even when you are wrong

Just because you make a mistake does not make it okay for people to abuse you. Yet we have a tendency to take abuse if we are in the wrong. When we make a mistake that brings forth anger and abuse from someone, there are two issues at hand: the mistake and the abuse. It is essential to separate them out.

I first became aware of this issue when I was a passenger in my spiritual teacher's pick-up truck. We were talking about something in depth and he inadvertently cut someone off. The other driver laid on his horn, gave us the finger, and screamed vile nastiness at us. My teacher, not missing a beat, yelled right back at him. I thought to myself, "Wow, that was not very Zen of him." After a minute, I finally got the courage to point out, "Bart, I think you actually cut him off."

"Of course I did. Does that mean that I need to take a bunch of crap from him?"

I was so used to allowing people to get away with treating me poorly that I had never considered this. I figured somehow that if I made a mistake, I deserved the abuse. I suppose I can thank my dad for that belief.

So let's separate out the two parts of this interaction. First, I make a mistake and it affects someone. (Let's assume it is not a malicious act on my part, but an honest mistake.) Secondly, the person that I affected lashes out and abuses me.

So sure, taking responsibility for my mistake makes sense. But then he abused me. Why should I tolerate such abuse just because I made an honest mistake?

So next time, fight back. Do not take it. Stop people from abusing you immediately. Ask questions later. Zen, by the way, is not passive. No one ever deserves abuse.

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