Some people are just jerks. And we have to accept that.

In our lives, we will come across a multitude of people, some good, some bad, some indifferent. Realising that we have no control over how they behave, we come to the conclusion that the only thing we can control is how we in turn behave towards them. This is the true measure of our integrity.

In Zen philosophy, it’s often stated that everyone is perfect for where they are in their lives. Even if they are being a perfect jerk. What that essentially means is that we have to allow them to be a jerk, because we can’t really change them anyway. A person has to want to change themselves, and no one can do it for them. We might be able to perhaps point a finger in the direction we would wish them to go, hopefully in the direction of being less of a jerk, but in the end it’s up to them to do the walking. And it’s up to us to do the accepting that they may or may not take those steps.

jerkThis is awfully hard to do. Acceptance of the fact that some people are jerks, and that there is nothing we can do about it is tough. We’re so often coming across slogans and maxims such as “you can change the world” but really, all we can do is influence our own lives, work on our own behaviour, and if we’re lucky, some of that will ripple outwards into our community and into the wider stream of being. We can inspire others. But we can’t change other people, much as we would like.

We will come across jerks in our working life, in our home life, in all spheres of living. We will also come across some beautiful people, inspiring human beings that can help us to continue in our own journeys with a self-reflective quality that is not self-centred or self-obsessed. However, we often allow the jerks the most time, living and re-living our experiences with them over and over. We need to stop this cycle and focus on the important things.

It’s not easy, as I’ve said before. I do it, and have to consciously stop myself from doing it. I could have twenty lovely people support me and my work, and then have one work colleague who is a jerk about it. I can let that one person monopolise my thoughts, when they’ve been outnumbered twenty to one in real life. What I really should be doing is not seeking any external validation for the work I do, but hey, we’re all human and a little interaction and validation can go a long way. I suppose there’s a difference between support and validation, but that is another blog topic post!

I’ve had trouble with work colleagues: bullying, incompetence and outright lying just for starters. I’ve done all that I can in those situations that should have been done: reporting the problem, asking for assistance and calling people up on their actions. Some outcomes have been acceptable, some not, others just left unresolved. So what is one to do?Β  Just leave it? Let them be incompetent? Let them continue lying and deceiving others? Let them be jerks?

Well, yes.

Hard as it may seem, especially to someone who holds concepts of honour and integrity so highly, to allow others to be horrid, awful, wilfully mean or just plain inept is all a part of maintaining my own sanity. I do what I can in each situation, but at the end of the day I’ve done what I can, and it’s not in my hands anymore. Sometimes there will be a resolution that I agree with, but for the most part it won’t be satisfactory in the least.

This radiates outwards in all aspects of life. People will cut you off on the motorway. People will be rude to you down the phone. People will jump in front of you in line. People will take out their own troubles in life while you stand behind the counter wondering what you have done to deserve this. People will talk crap about you. People will say one thing and do another. And the only thing we can control is our own response to these situations.

Will we replay it again and again in our heads, allowing them all that time to make us angry, hurt or depressed? Or will we turn our thoughts to that which nourishes us, strengthens us, makes us want to share the inspiration that we’ve in turn been inspired by in the endless cycle and flow of awen?

The choice is yours. Just like it’s their choice whether to be a jerk or not.

Can we accept that?


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10 thoughts on “Jerks

  1. I heard a good one yesterday. If someone stole Β£10 from your bank, would you throw all the other money away? So if someone narks you for 10 minutes of the day…

    Moving forward. The jerks have to live with themselves too.

  2. Wow this is an issue that is very present in my life right now.I’m a member of Veterans for Peace and a fellow member flew into a rage at a meeting and has refused to see the total contradiction of that act as pertains to the stated goals and principles of the group.The rest of the members and I have tried for 2 months to get him to sit and discuss this, all to no avail.It’s really hard to accept this behaviour without some kind of resolution . So many people are wounded and just can’t get past that to a place of equanimity . Thanks for your thoughts on this, I guess we have to keep trying to reach this person in a meaningful way.
    The Quest is the Quest

  3. It is very easy in this modern world to lose all faith in human nature simply because there are so many “jerks” in the world and I have constant difficulty with containing my complete disgust for so many people……particularly in my work as an environmental activist and other political and peace projects where one is witnessing mindless behaviour on a regular basis.
    So, yes, it is a great skill to be able to let go and move on when confronted by “jerks”……but a very difficult one.A Buddhist teacher once told me that the easiest way to do this is to think that by the law of Karma the person concerned would get their due deserts! But easier said than done………….

    • The karmic thing is interesting. I don’t think that people who do good things are rewarded, and people who do bad things are punished. We can see examples all over the place where this vision of karma just doesn’t happen. I think maybe it’s an ill-defined meaning of karma. For me, if I was being a jerk, then I’m pretty sure my life wouldn’t be all that happy, even though I might try to make it out to be so. And if I’m nice, that doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to me or those I love. In my practice, when people are just jerks, I can’t rely on karma to sort it out – I can just let them be, without thoughts of revenge, vengeance (yeah, it’s pretty hard, and takes A LOT of work, but the point is in the trying, the intention) entering my mind. Stand up for yourself and others, but don’t waste any more time than necessary πŸ™‚

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