There was a time I felt very wronged earlier in my life. White hot anger. Didn’t sleep for two days anger. Not tossing and turning. Pacing in a room angry.

The quote that got me to settle down was this:

“To understand is to forgive.” - Pascal

Here’s what I did next…
I wrote a letter to me from the person who I felt had wronged me.

I tried to write his side of the story.

Truly. I wrote it like an essay.

His childhood. His parents. High school. Upbringing. The times I’d wronged him. Etc.
And an interesting thing happened.

As my focus shifted out of myself towards this other humans experience I began to understand why he was the way he was.

And I learned one of the most important lessons of my life:

You cannot be both hate and truly understand another person.
And I began applying that template to many relationships in my life.

People I felt had wronged me.

Anger I kept bottled up from past scars.

And I wrote essays.

NOT to them, but AS THEM.

And one by one I disarmed these time bombs I stored inside myself.
It culminated with an unexpected encounter.

One of my “letter targets” came at me pretty aggressively.

Picking a fight.

And I remember distinctly a nullified reaction.

I said “I get you…I get how hard your dad was on you. How hard being made fun of was when you were younger
I get how what I did made you think I was becoming this thing that you hate.

I get it.”

Then they broke down and cried.

Today, we aren’t friends. But we have no demons between us.

And I owe that to this little process.

Writing AS another rather than TO another.
Because if you choose to believe that we are simply the sum of the actions that have been reinforced by our surroundings (as I do), then people do things that they believe will reward them.

That’s it.

They didn’t do it to hurt you, or X, or Y…they did it because acting that
way worked in the last for them.

For the same reason you and I do what we do.

Because something we did in the past makes us think that what we’re doing will reward us.

At least for me, this exercise has helped me. I hope it helps someone else.

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Great thread. This habit of “essay writing” is essentially an exercise in cultivating real empathy for others .. and with empathy, we can disarm any hostility.