Perceived attacks are tricky things. I can be so aware and hurt by what you did that I naturally conclude (i.e. assume) that you were acting with the knowledge that I would be hurt. To me, the connection is obvious. It is impossible to imagine that someone could do that, and not see how it would hurt me in that way. But I don’t stop there. If you chose to do that action, with the knowledge that it would hurt me in that way, there are only two explanations: A) You did it deliberately to hurt me. That was your intention. Or B) You knew I’d be hurt and you simply did not care.

Either way, your action is even more hurtful with this added level of assumption. My natural response is to attack back. The question is, what if you actually did not know I’d be hurt, either through ignorance of the consequences, or because you would not be hurt in the same scenario vice versa, so it would not occur to you that I would be hurt. Well now, from your perspective, you did not attack me, and what I perceive as my defense appears to you as an unprovoked attack, how do you think you’ll respond?

To illustrate this point, imagine I am sitting in a boat on a calm pond minding my own business. Suddenly, you come along on the dock and toss in a large rock. I get such a huge splash I am thrown from the boat. Would I feel attacked? Damn right. And how could you do that? Unprovoked. And a person in my position might feel completely justified in either seeking vengeance, or at least being really steamed for a while. But what if you had a personal reason for throwing a rock and you did not know or see that anyone was on the lake? What if there was a crocodile about to attack me that I did not see, and you were saving/helping me, and the splash on me was accidental or unavoidable to helping me? In these situations and more, if I react to your act of throwing the rock based solely on the harm I felt without understanding your true intentions, I may be way out of line. That is not to say that harm done to me is never an attack. This story is merely a reminder to pause before responding in order to get more information on the context and intention of the act.


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“We are disturbed not by events but by the views which we take of them.”



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“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.”  – Alan Keightley


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