It is a very general statement. Good and bad are polarized aspects of living behavior. They are relative in nature. But sometimes emotions color the psyche and feelings modify our reactions towards what we feel is bad or good for our existence at the time of the action or our thoughts about it.
Motive is paramount. The relationship to the offending person is also important. What else falls into the diagnostic package? The personal relations we may have or have had with the offending individual and the level at which the insult was perceived.
Most of the time the closer one’s relationship is to the offending individual, the greater the perception of injury. Other items cloud our perception like our knowledge of past aspects of the offender’s history which might explain at an emotional or cognitive level a hidden aspect of his or her psyche. All of us are partially if not hidden from ourselves, definitely hidden from others. The masks we use in our behavior and the filters with which we modulate them are part of our signature as individuals. Our past history is the elastic mold continually created and adjusted by any new action from whose inspection we can acquire clues about our individual needs and desires. Professionals inspect and track the mold’s changes over years.
So, what does the person think, feel and do when he or she discovers she has been betrayed ? The initial response is a mixture of great sadness - how can a good person do something so bad. This is followed by intense anger. Thoughts of revenge flash through the mind. Tears well up in the eyes. Depression and a feeling of deep impotence can be quite paralyzing if the perpetrator is a close relative. It may constrict the person into a psychological feeling of “no exit”. An individual who does not allow hitting bottom while in self-deprecation or fear but uses his or her cognitive apparatus for analysis of one’s emotional whirlwind can bypass this.
Looking at oneself diverts the focus from the “other” to oneself. Am I capable of doing such a thing? Have I ever done such a thing? These are thoughts about one’s own integrity and a comparison is made between one’s self-conscious manipulation of one’s consciousness versus the memory of the emotionally perceive angst.
We actually dwell in such conflicting realities every night, while the conscious self does not feel responsible about the ghosts rising to scream and play with us. Some are familiar with those visions and how they may have been acquired in past living or lives, if there is such a thing, Personally, I do know that there is a resonance with past happenings through which knowledge of the past somehow surfaces into our daily lives. Can we use the newly acquired knowledge of a possible past existence in order to expand our self -awareness?
Knowledge becomes valuable but it also invokes responsibility for its use and needs to be cognitively evaluated whenever we have enough mental data to do so.
Speculation can also divert the self into identifying with the aggressor, compartmentalizing our behavior and constructing fancy intellectualizations due to denial of what seems unacceptable, because it implies great emotional losses and compromises our ability to function in a well-integrated manner.
In view of these and other less acceptable responses to psychic or physical injury, what recourse does the injured party have? Detachment from the injury is possible if the mind’s power of analysis can allow it. The mind can only do so if we place ourselves imaginatively speaking in the aggressor’s shoes and thus walk through a limited, but perhaps probable excursion into our own past and present behavior, and come face to face with our own psychic fragility recognizing and perhaps choosing to accept the half hidden and frightening part of ourselves which C.G. Jung referred to as “the Shadow.” I also refer to such memories as ghosts lurking in our psychic basement. Only the light of inquiry shall free them. This sounds charitably healing and perhaps Platonic, but does it indeed release our anger into harmless vapors?
For many years, I have been puzzled about the commandment to love one’s enemy, viewing it as obviously absurd. Can’t we get killed in the process? How is this form of life called “agape” to be expressed when we actually feel like destroying and thus preventing the enemy from further harming us? Tough thinking is required when the perpetrator is one’s mother, one sibling, one’s child, one’s spouse, etc. We need to differentiate between three states of mind: forgetting, dreaming of vengeance and remembering cognitively, but at the same time letting go emotionally. By doing this psychic mental dance advocated by psychologists in vogue, we acknowledge the power of the “shadow” and somehow do not allow it to reign over our psyche. Sounds good. On the other had, Prevention of further injury or betrayal is part of human wisdom, because at times our blind emotions may lead into hell’s fires. When that happens we need to offer generosity not because we are weak, but because freely offered generosity is simply a need required by every person in order to heal one’s self-esteem by feeling good! There is also a difference between forgiving and forgetting. The wise person shall remember and use preventive measures while looking in a mirror. The “other”, the “Thou” of Martin Buber is still in front us; yes, we are part of the other, and respect it. The mirror is there in order to also separate us from the “other” at the same time that we recognize it.
Duality is part of reality for the functional part of our lives. Overcoming it can lead to madness or to the loss of self into the greater Ocean of Life where we all came from and shall return. These excursions into such extreme realms better be brief and memorable.