Being a bigger person can be a really challenging thing to do. However, along with doing so, you could learn a valuable lesson. Continue reading for our guide on the hows and whys of being the bigger person after a falling out or breakdown of relations.
What does being the bigger person means?
There are many definitions related to being the bigger person. However, for us, it simply means not allowing your anger or prejudice relating to a situation to take over and dictate our responses. Being the bigger person encompasses responding in a calm, measured way with no intention of hurting the other person or people. It also means that we endeavor to be assertive, yet kind and polite, without being trampled over.
How can you be a bigger person?
In any situation, instant reactions can be damaging. It is important to take your time and think things through. Of course, there are times when a speedy response is necessary, but do not be afraid to say, “I need time to think about this. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.” Doing so means that you have some control over the matter and do not become regretful about having responded angrily or with malice.
Even with time, it can be a challenge to show yourself to be a bigger person. It is absolutely natural to want to inflict harm upon someone who has done that to you. However, in the long run, doing so will largely lead to regret, discomfort at your decision to do so, and, ultimately, if you still have to continue seeing the person, possibly an inability to look that person in the eyes.
Consider all the other people who would be in the firing line if you choose to react in a negative way. Are children involved in the situation? If so, they are surely the most important considerations. It would be wrong to inflict unnecessary hurt onto people who have become embroiled in this disagreement or scenario unknowingly or unwillingly.
Despite popular opinion, it does not have to mean that you continue to talk to the person with whom you have faced a conflict. Far from it, as you certainly are allowed to make decisions about who you do and do not socialize with. In fact, although you may think that being the bigger person means throwing caution to the wind and being in the same place as the person who has caused you to hurt, it absolutely does not. If you need to make the decision to avoid them due to anxiety or concern for your safety, do just that. This does not mean you have failed at this. If, however, you work together or are in the same family, it may be more difficult to avoid seeing them from time to time. Being civil shows that you are more mature in your approach to them and also prevents others from feeling uncomfortable, especially at grand occasions such as weddings. You do not have to be bosom buddies or even have a conversation, but acknowledging the other person’s presence is important.
To be the bigger person, you do not have to forgive the other party blindly. If you feel as though you have been treated unfairly and trampled over, you have every right to refuse to forgive and forget. Simply tell the other person that you appreciate their apology. Do not even mention forgiveness. Yes, they may assume that you thanking them means you have accepted it, but it is open to interpretation. You never have to feel or do a certain thing, just because you feel you are obliged to, especially if it will make you feel somewhat negative thereafter.
Sometimes, we are in need of inspiration to support us on our journey towards being the bigger person. Reading stories of unconditional acts of kindness can be really helpful. The HumanKind book by Brad Aronson will certainly open your eyes to the things that are important in life and how people’s actions can change people’s lives for the better if we allow them to.
Of course, there will be moments when you do just explode instantaneously in response to a comment or action from someone else. If that is the case and your response is eating you up inside, it is not too late to show yourself to be the bigger person. Simply, get in touch with that person at the earliest time possible and apologize for your response. That does not mean that you are taking responsibility for the entire conflict; rather you are accepting that you are reacting in a way that does not reflect who you are. In doing so, you regain the upper hand. In fact, it may be the trigger needed to get your friendship or relationship back on track if that is what you wish to happen.
Why is it important to be the bigger person?
- It shows a certain level of maturity. It is not the playground anymore. Indeed, you are an adult, and therefore acting like one will prove your maturity.
- It will reduce the number of regrets you have. You won’t be replaying the situation over and over in your head, feeling guilty about something that you said or did. This happens on a regular basis for a lot of people. Taking one such possibility away will empower you.
- It shows you are assertive and unwilling to be walked all over. Therefore, others know that they cannot get away with certain things with you in the future. People should take you more seriously when they realize how you respond in situations of conflict.
- It can help your mental health. Deliberately avoiding becoming angry or upset can have a huge impact on your wellbeing. By being assertive and requesting a time to contemplate things, you avoid a potential outburst, which can be incredibly damaging to the stability of your anxiety or depression.
- It can impact the way that other people see you. Although we always say that we should not concern ourselves with how other people view us, it is impossible not to become distressed when we hear negative things being said about us. Reducing the chance of that happening goes hand in hand with being the bigger person. When people see you choosing to avoid further conflict and refusing to engage in a bitter war of words, they will see you as a fair, kind human being.