Beyond the Labels of Right and Wrong

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

– Rumi

This frequently quoted poem brings up an interesting question: Can we ever truly know the motivations others had when they did something or didn’t do something? Can we ever claim they are wrong and we are right?

We are always so quick to judge others, or to insist that we are the victim in a given situation. And if we aren’t the ones telling the victim story ourselves, you can count on family or friends to do it for us.

When two people split up it seems family and friends feel the need to make one partner wrong and the other partner the victim. Instead of allowing the couple to find a new equilibrium, to build a new relationship of loving co-parenting and being friends, many people feel the need to take sides and to fuel the feelings of resentment and hurt which are natural in the situation.

Why is that? Changes like a marriage or long-term relationship ending brings up everybody’s shadows. It brings up fear in us. We were raised to believe a relationship should stay the same until death do us part.

Life however, is fluid. The only thing to count on is that everything changes all the time. That is not a bad thing at all. Change brings new opportunities for happiness and growth. A marriage can change into a friendship between two parents supporting each other.

Changes are also scary. Even if we are unhappy, we might choose to stay in a situation because it is at least familiar. Or because we do not really believe we deserve to be happy. For some of us, the end of a relationship brings up the thought that deep-down, we wish we had the courage to make changes.

Often times, when we judge someone, we know intuitively that we are just human as well. Remember Grant from my blog on April 26, 2013 “Who do you judge? – The Story of the Immoral Girlfriend”? Last fall, Grant—whose name I changed for the blog—left his wife of 25 years for another woman. He did exactly what he had judged so harshly in somebody else a few years prior. He fell in love with somebody else. Deep-down, he knew all along that this could happen to him as well.

You should never throw stones when you live in a glass house. We ALL live in a glass house. We are all human and every energy that exists in the Universe also exists in us. We can never say we would not do something. We can only live with as much integrity as possible at a given moment in time and trust others to do the same.

We don’t know how much a person has struggled with a decision and how they have acted when we weren’t there. Whenever one person feels hurt, the stories of blame fly. Often, they are nothing but stories. Our left brain likes to fill in the gaps between the facts that we see with an interpretation. Our left brain is a great story-teller, as the brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor has pointed out in her book “My Stroke of Insight”. We can interpret what appears in so many different ways. In general, we like to find proof for our story. Sadly, in some cases, it’s the victim story that we are hanging on for dear life to.

The more we insist on our story of right and wrong and the more we are triggered by somebody else, the clearer it is that the person is mirroring something inside of us. What are they mirroring for us that we are afraid to look at ourselves? As the bystander, is our indignation and condemnation coming from the fear that this could also happen to us?

Once we have healed our wounds, we realize that the other person did not use us, or reject us, but that it was simply time for a change. We have the choice to be stuck in unfounded judgment and hatred, or move beyond it to a new beginning. We can either rebuild a relationship for the sake of the children, or we can poison ourselves and the children with anger and resentment.

The first concept to let go of is the victim story and the idea of blame. There are always two people in a relationship. Is it really necessary to blame either one of them? Usually both have contributed to the end of the relationship in some form. We can endlessly get stuck in “you did this to me”. However, how much less suffering would the children go through if we could strive to move beyond the labels of right and wrong as soon as possible?

And as family and friends, the greatest gift we can give that couple is to support them to establish a new relationship of cooperation and communication.

Are you ready to give someone in your life the benefit of the doubt and move beyond right and wrong?



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