September 28, 2010
September 28, 2010


I am continually asked, “Why did X do that to me?” “Why did X treat me like that?” “Why did X speak to me that way?” The comment is followed by “It was unfair.” and “I did not deserve to be treated this way.”

While I can guess at people’s motives, there is no way that I, as a counselor, can guarantee that my assessment is correct. I can assure my clients that they did not deserve to be mistreated by another human being. Unfortunately minor indiscretion of devious people is not punishable legally.

When clients ask these searching questions I search my memory for a similar situation -in order to do active listening-of empathising with them. I remember when I was in college at 16 years of age, I was in the waiting room of the Dean’s office. The Assistant Dean told me to go right in, but the door to the Dean’s office was closed so I put my hand up to knock. The Assistant Dean told me not to knock before I had a chance to do it. However, I tried two more times to follow through on what I believed to be proper, but each time the Assistant Dean emphatically told me that I was to go in without knocking.

I finally followed her direction and turned the knob just as the Dean opened the door accompanied by several people. The Dean laced me out and followed through with continual negative consequences as if it were a major crime.

I have often wondered what the motivation of the Assistant Dean was:
1. Was I being used as a pawn to aggravate the Dean for some past issue between them?
2. Had the Assistant Dean developed a dislike of me for some unknown reason?.
3. Or did the Assistant Dean enjoy making students miserable?

It is obvious when a similar story of deviousness is told that there is no answer to questions of motivation based on the limited knowledge of the situation. It is clear that some times individuals act meanly for whatever their own reasons are. It is best to not dwell on those unsolved mysteries. Doing so only leads to further frustration and allows the first emotional assault to become a permanent one. The improved way to get even, is not to allow it to affect the rest of your life. Obviously the cruel person wanted to hurt you. What better way to prevent them from that satisfaction, then, is to not let it destroy your trust in everyone. Let the lesson instead be: some people -for unknown reasons- enjoy making other people unhappy. Therefore be happy that you have fouled their plans.