Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Why It’s Smart Not to Harm

It’s so easy to hurt someone’s feelings, don’t you think?

Recently, I did just that all because of a pop-up window.

Now, this isn’t a story about pop ups.  So I hope you will read it through to get the moral of the story.  It’s an important one, I feel.  And it might save you from creating a mess.

I feel annoyed by pop-up windows that appear when you visit a blog.  In fact, it’s interesting to see how much annoyance they bring up for me.

A big part of the problem is the fact that they appear each and every time I visit certain blogs.  I’ll be deeply into reading the article at hand when the pop up window flashes open obscuring the text.

Since I have a small screen, the magic spot marked “X” – to close the window –  is hidden above the top of the screen.  That means I have to stop reading, scroll up to close the box, then scroll back down and find my place in the text once again.  Annoying, right?

Many bloggers set their pop up window to only appear the first time you visit.  But, I didn’t know that at the time.  I just kept getting these windows every time I visited.  So you see, it really started to get on my nerves.

I found it so unfriendly.  I couldn’t imagine why any one would want to obscure their text – the very meat of their blog.  And some highly accomplished bloggers like Leo Babauta recommend against using pop ups altogether.

Now onto the main point of the story…

On an impulse, I told a blogging friend that I was disappointed about the recent addition of a pop up on her blog.  After all, the world revolves around me, doesn’t it?  Everyone should organize their blogs to save me from annoyance.

Of course, her feelings were hurt.  She could not fathom why seeing a pop up one time would cause me so much distress.  She considers me a friend.  In her view, friends stick by and support each other in their endeavors even when you don’t agree with a particular decision.  Sure, she was having problems with her pop up, but she thought it was set to appear only once – on the initial visit.

In my view, friends give honest feedback.  And that window popped up every time I came to her blog.  At first, I was stuck on my position and feeling somewhat self-justified.  Isn’t that what we often do when we hurt another person’s feelings?  But very quickly, I decided to get off my position and apologize.  After all, my friend was clearly hurt.

There were several sticky exchanges, but with heart-to-heart communication we were able to preserve and even deepen our friendship.  I give her 5 starts for her honesty and willingness to work this through.  As an extra added bonus, her pop up no longer appears on my every visit to her blog.  Maybe she made a correction.  Maybe my change of internet service made the difference.  I don’t know.

But the problem is, I created a mess by acting on that impulse.

Reflection:  Why It’s Smart Not to Harm

The quote for this week’s reflection is one that I read the day after the above incident.  As soon as I read it, my remorse doubled up.

These are the final words spoken by the great Tibetan master, Khenpo Jikmé Phuntsok.  A spiritual teacher often gives their most profound and pithy teaching at the moment of death.

“Never to disturb the mind of others; look upon them with love and compassion.  My disciples, you must never abandon this vow.” – Khenpo Jikmé Phuntsok

Reading this was like a knife through the heart.  Here this great spiritual master is saying to NEVER disturb the mind of another.  I realized – even more deeply – how I had disturbed the mind of another due to my inability to curb an impulse over a silly and minor inconvenience.  And then I momentarily tried to evade taking responsibility for it.

What do great spiritual teachers know that causes them to be so meticulous about the choice of their thoughts, words, and actions?

While their intention isn’t self-interest, they believe fully and know from the bottom of their heart that harming others only brings about more harm and suffering.  Harming others actually harms you too.

“Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.” – the Buddha

In my case, the action may have seemed small.  It might be easy to shrug it off as not a big deal.  After all, I didn’t murder anyone.  But it hurt my friend.  It also brought me a slew of emotional turmoil.  Then it took considerable time to repair the damage.  I saw the boomerang effect immediately.  That’s not always the case, but the harm always rebounds eventually.

It’s embarrassing to admit my folly.  However, I also know none of us are perfect.  And, it’s not always clear what is and isn’t harmful. Negative impulses do arise and sometimes we follow them. There’s no point in beating ourselves up about it when that happens.

Nevertheless, when we realize how much harm harming brings, it seems smart to consciously commit to not harming.  And then to really try our utmost to maintain that promise.

That means being meticulous about our thoughts, words, and deeds.  Of course, if we do mess up, we will do our best to repair whatever damage we’ve caused.  But isn’t it smarter to avoid creating a mess in the first place?

These days though, it seems almost unchíc to be so meticulous about one’s behavior. While people can get behind compassion, the idea of non-harming seems less appealing all around.  It has a moralistic ring that seems to make people shirk away.

What do you think?  Do you think it’s important to be meticulous about the potential effect of every thought, word, and action you take?

Photo: Crimfants

If you liked this article, please share the link with others using the share button below.  And, I would love to hear from you in the comments.  Thanks so much for your support! Sandra


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  1. I think your story provides a basic example of what to watch for in separating online functionality from real life honorable behavior, Sandra. Pop-ups are, and can only function as, an ego behavior. They are like the student in class who can’t listen, whose hand is always up waving. I never consider them polite, no matter what supposed information they provide. At least when my virus protectors or software updates pop up, there’s always an “ask later” button in case I’m busy.

    However, the pause before reacting allows us to reconsider our own choices of how best to respond. That’s important. I often tell myself to think twice. Thank you for the opportunity to consider this.

    • Hi Mike,

      You really hit the target when you suggest “pause” and “think twice” before reacting. That’s an incredibly key point in this discussion of not harming. I don’t like pop ups, but the problem was not fundamentally the pop up. It’s the annoyance within me. The internet will probably always have pop ups, but I can transform the annoyance that rises within me instead of jumping on another person’s case. Then you have two happy campers instead of two distressed bunnies. Your insight is keen.

  2. HI Sandra,
    I’m with you on the pop ups…I cant stand them! I feel like if I love the site/blog I will find my way to subscribe to it by looking for an option clearly given on the site. But thats me…and I do have my tiny monitor set to wide screen resolutions so I dont miss that X mark. I hit it way too often way too fast sometimes 🙂
    From the psychological perspective though…the pop ups serve well for the layman/the less technical person….who ordinarily wouldn’t even know to look for the option for a subscription or update….
    I personally cant stand pop ups..but they do their job to be kind of in your face…I often compare pop ups to the in your face sales person in the supermarket or the telemarketer, who wont take no for an answer, till you actually shrug them away.
    As for impulse…ohh I’ve learned over time, to say what I feel like in my head first, before I say it out aloud. Slowly the introspection has become a habit. And A very good habit, to not hurt another soul. But I still get impulsive sometimes…..and then oh my those guilt trips keep me awake till i apologize ….
    The fact that you did apologize speaks highly of the kind of person you are. You are self aware and conscious of your behavior ..and that in itself is the best way to live. So we slip up sometimes….we are human, not perfect….and its ok to have a few slip ups as long as you can learn from them for the future.
    My own personal trick is to sleep on that burning impulse(yes it takes a lot of willpower). If I feel this grave need to vent or scream or express my displeasure to “ANYTHING” online of offline…i wait the night. Sleep and if that feeling hasnt subsided by morning(which it usually does), I will express myself, but very politely….cause then I’m not burning with rage in that moment na 🙂
    And those quotes you used…are really introspective.
    So Much love to you,

    • Zeenat,

      I love how you always bring a balanced perspective to the conversation.

      You are right – pop ups “work” in terms of getting people signed up on your mailing list and that’s why many people use them. I understand that many bloggers are trying to create an income online. It may be due to hard economic times, to supplement retirement income, the wish to have more mobility and freedom, the desire to get away from an unrewarding job, and so on. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that although I don’t particularly like certain marketing styles.

      The key point is that I got trapped by my annoyance, by an impulse in the moment, and instead of hitting pause as Mike suggested, I foolishly ran forward. You offer such wise advice for how to hit the mega pause button (sleep on it!) because those impulses do eventually pass by. It would have saved strained feelings and wasted time in this case for sure. And you really understand the heart of the matter: to create a good habit of trying our best not to harm another soul.

      I’ve learned it’s always wise to apologize. Even if you have a different viewpoint, the other person is still hurt and apologizing is the best way to soothe wounds. And generally speaking, there’s almost always validity in both points of view. Trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes can help you see the experience in a different way and also loosen up your attachment to your position.

      Thanks for offering this sage advice on avoiding impulsive behavior.

      • @Sandra,
        It’s obvious to me that this article is not about pop-ups and I felt annoyed when I detected that. I appreciate what you have shared and how you resolved you issue with your friend. You feel you acted on impulse and apparently had a guilt burden about that. You have now made amends with your friend and that’s a good thing.

        I am an experienced blogger who fondly remembers the days when blogs were not used for income generation purposes. The bottom line for me is that I am adverse to experiencing pop-up advertising on blogs and I am choosing to hold on to that aversion. I’m not trapped in it — I am making a conscious choice that has nothing whatsoever to do with harming anyone.

        Bloggers who wish to compile an email list do so for marketing purposes and I don’t cotton to being viewed as a consumer because I’m not one. I am a blog reader. I can read source code very well and I am aware of the blogs that are PPC and all the other tactics employed to make money from blog readers. If a blog has pop-up advertising then I no longer visit it.

        • Hi timethief,

          Yes, the point of this article isn’t pop ups. I’m sorry if that confused or annoyed you. I pointed that out near the beginning of the article so that no one would be led astray. Sorry if this wasn’t said clearly enough.

          I didn’t have a guilt burden. I felt remorse, not guilt. So I made amends. I feel remorse is a positive quality, whereas guilt is not helpful to anyone.

          Disliking pop ups does not equate with harming by any means! I’m glad you pointed that out. It is a matter of choice to visit blogs with pop ups or not to visit them. Using an RSS reader or an email subscription is a good way to avoid pop ups too. But I like to visit blogs in person so I can comment.

          I haven’t drawn a line as you have because I still value the content of a few blogs with pop ups. But I can certainly understand and respect why you’ve made the choice you have because I don’t find them a pleasant experience.

          Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  3. There might be more subtle ways of marketing, but there is no subtle way to insult someone. The old ‘I don’t want to offend you, but” doesn’t help. I love your honesty, Sandra. Sounds like you’re having a hard time forgiving yourself. That’s the next step – be kind to you too. And I couldn’t agree more about being meticulous with our thoughts and words. It is not easy. It takes work. But it’s worth it because you are serving others and not yourself in doing so – and never disturbing their minds intentionally.

    • Hi Katie,

      I think you’ve really captured the essence of this article. It’s not about the pop ups, but about being cognizant of the impact of our thoughts, words, and actions. You’ve really expressed the key point well: to never intentionally disturb the minds of others. Intention is incredibly important.

      I agree that self-forgiveness is very important and I’m glad you mention it. But actually, I’m not having a hard time forgiving myself at all. I know that I’m not perfect and I don’t expect myself to be.

      The other important point that you underline is our decision to be of service to others instead of our self. Which ironically, serves you in the end. This doesn’t mean not taking care of yourself. But I could have easily let this annoyance pass by instead of fueling it and making a huge bonfire.

      Thanks for your insights!

  4. I don’t see your honest reaction as the problem ~ unless you were nasty and called her names and said she was STUPID for having pop ups and . . .

    If you merely said that you don’t care for pop ups, then the issue is HERS to resolve.

    If you merely said that you don’t care for pop ups, then you did NOT “disturb her mind,” she failed to remain mindful of her thoughts and let them get away from her.

    Perhaps she needs to toughen up if she wants to blog in the real world.

    • And maybe what you said will BENEFIT her in the long run . . . by reminding her to be more mindful of her thoughts and NOT allow herself to be so sensitive about mild constructive criticism. 😀

    • Nancy,
      You are right that it’s not always easy to discern what will be harmful and what won’t be harmful. That’s why I find these words from Khenpo Jikmé Phuntsok an especially deep and powerful meditation. You are also right that we all need to take responsibility for our own actions. The world and people in it may act as a trigger, but ultimately our reaction comes from within. But generally, I find most people in the West at least are pretty sensitive.

      Of course, I didn’t call the person stupid! But I feel I did create harm by acting on my annoyance. I could have just blown off my annoyance instead of letting it get the better of me, which would have saved both time and discomfort for myself and my friend.

      • Fine. People are “pretty sensitive.” But should they be?

        Or should they learn to use their inner compass to mindfully control their monkey minds? And be more concerned with what they think of their own actions and less concerned with the opinions of others?

        One of my favorite quotes: “What you think of me is none of my business.”

        How do you know that you were not her teacher?

        If we always walk around on eggshells and ONLY say what people WANT to hear . . . aren’t we preventing them from letting go of Ego to embrace Spirit?

        • Hi Nancy,

          I did edit my comment after I thought about your reply for awhile (before I saw this one) because I do appreciate the points you are making. So it now takes into account some of the points you raise in this reply too. Which I agree with wholeheartedly.

          Great teachers like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama do tell the truth even though sometimes it might be unpleasant. We need to look at both the short term and long term impact of our words and actions. I’m not suggesting that we should be only a people-pleaser at the expense of the truth.

          But there are plenty of times, like in this particular case, where I could just let go of my own reaction – as you focus on in your reply – instead of blurting out something that’s bound to cause discomfort to another. The problem is that I wasn’t mindfully controlling MY monkey mind.

          I do very much appreciate the points you are raising.

      • Perfect response, Sandra.

        I agree with you that when we feel annoyance, we must first “press pause” and ask whether the issue is ours to handle on our own, or whether there is a message to share.

        Generally, though, I know that MY life is better because I let others “press my buttons” without me getting upset as a result of their actions ~ I have no control over them and 95% control over my response.

        How I choose to relate to the issue is the issue.

        If someone ELSE had written this post, I would have wondered if they were too HARSH. Since I know that you would have been mild in any “criticism” . . . I viewed your decision to share your concern as a teaching moment to someone who might want to consider what others are probably thinking.

        Honesty, to me, is more important than walking around on eggshells to avoid ruffling a few feathers.

  5. Woulda coulda shoulda. In hindsight it would have been more politic to say you noted the pop ups and did she know it came up EVERY SINGLE TIME you went there? Good friends are supposed to be supportive, but good bloggers put their readers first, and she should have seen this as valuable information.

    The problem with being friends with hyper-sensitive people is that it means treading on eggshells on many topics. I’m hyper-sensitive and put my family and friends through a lot sometimes, so I know. We get over it if you get over it.

    And I despise pop-ups. You and Leo are right on that one. Not every gizmo is a good gizmo.

    • Hi Meg,

      It’s good to hear the perspective of a hyper-sensitive person. Thanks for that. I’m hyper-sensitive too so I know what you mean. My friend actually gets 5 stars for communicating honestly and being willing to work through this. What intrigues me is the way that acting on my own annoyance made such a mess. It’s been a great lesson for me.

      I still don’t like pop-ups like you but I’m not going to let them get my goat in the future! Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I really can’t stand pop-ups either. Typo’s and visual chaos on a site drives me crazy too. And I agree that you’d want your friend to be open to constructive critique… but mostly I’ve found people just don’t want to hear unsolicited suggestions. As a graphic designer I can’t help but see things from a design perspective, yet I’ve found it’s better not to offer advice unless it’s asked for.

    • Sue,

      You really touch on the heart of the matter > I too know so well from experience that people don’t like unsolicited feedback. But instead of following this path of wisdom, I let annoyance get my goat! I intend to follow the “golden rule” of no unsolicited advice that you so wisely highlight here.

  7. I had several thoughts about all the things like pop ups that annoy me, but mostly your post reminded me of is a good friend of mine, Doug. Doug is a very successful graduate of Harvard Law School, but you will never hear that from him. He is unfailingly generous and courteous and humble. One of my favorite memories is taking Doug to lunch with my Aunt Bernice. Aunt Bernice grew up in poverty in the Ozarks. She never had much education and she used “a” in front of lots of verbs, as in “I’m a-gonna go to the store.” She died at 99, a great great grandmother. I adored her. Doug treated her like a queen at lunch, holding her chair, asking her about her life, solicitous of her comfort and well being. Later, I spoke to him about this and he said simply that his father had taught him to have good manners, which meant making other people feel comfortable and good about themselves.

    I know that isn’t exactly what you were taking about in your post, but thanks for reminding me of that happy memory!

    • Galen,

      This is a beautiful story and I think it’s incredibly relevant. I loved Doug’s approach to interpersonal relationships: “making other people feel comfortable and good about themselves.” Because I got stuck in my annoyance, I got so centered on “me” and failed to take into account how to make the other person feel comfortable and good about themselves. Gosh, the world would be so different if we all followed Doug’s approach. In the end, seeing pop ups now and then isn’t the end of the world. Far more important is the respect we engender in our relationships with one another.

      Thanks so much for this, Galen. It’s a real gift.

  8. In my mind Sandra, we aspire to living a certain life and “do no harm – ever” is a noble sentiment but unattainable by all but the most enlightened. The best we can do is to strive for perfection knowing that it will never be realized. Therefore we must learn to forgive ourselves for our imperfections. I’m guessing that not liking pop-up adds isn’t a mortal sin.

    • Riley,

      I agree with you fully. Having an aspiration to perfection helps keep the key point at the forefront of our mind. Of course, we’re not perfect and self-forgiveness is key.

      You’re right in that not liking pop ups isn’t a mortal sin. 🙂 But acting on the impulse of annoyance is not necessarily smart or wholesome!

  9. Hi Sandra,
    I think we should always be mindful of others feelings. Some people just run with their anger or criticism, without even caring if the problem will be solved. There is always a way to approach someone from a place of respect & love. The choice to do so just has to be made. Thanks so much Sandra!

    • Dandy,

      That’s really the essence > “there’s always a way to approach someone from a place of respect & love.” That’s what I’m trying to develop more in myself. Thanks for phrasing it so beautifully.

  10. Hi Sandra,

    When a blogger writes so honestly about her own experience, everyone learns, so thank you for your willingness to share so transparently.

    I must say that I don’t like those pop-ups either. But that isn’t really the point of your post.

    To answer your final question, if we want true freedom and eternal happiness, it is essential to be meticulous about every thought, word, and action. I call this not leaving any stone unturned. In my own path, I have found it absolutely transforming to be extremely vigilant and observant to the nth degree – not about the effect of the behavior, but vigilant of where it is coming from in me. That is, is it coming from fear or lack or defensiveness – or truth? But this is an interim step.

    Once one is grounded in the truth, in the heart, there becomes an effortlessness to behavior. This is because there is the conscious knowing of no separation – that the “other” comes from the same source as “myself.” Behavior then flows directly in response to the circumstances that arise without having to think about its effect. And if there is an old pattern beginning to show itself, there is a sensitivity that sees it quite quickly.

    It is really a gift when we feel the sting because we have the opportunity to liberate an area of unconsciousness. As other commenters have said, our work is in investigating our own habits.

    Again, thank you for a provocative topic that will raise my awareness in days to come.

    • This is beautiful, Gail.

      As you suggest, another way to look at non-harming is to look at whether our thoughts, words, and action are coming from our true essence or “truth”, as you say, or from attachment, aversion, and ignorance – the basis of the states you mention like fear, lack, or defensiveness. When they emanate from the “truth” they will not be harmful as you point out.

      I feel we are in essence saying something very similar, but simply approaching it from a different angle or different level. It’s easier for some people to relate to the idea of “non-harming” whereas the idea of emanating from one’s true essence will resonate for others. However, the effect of non-harming is the same in the end.

      Yes, I agree that when you are grounded in the truth a sense of effortlessness comes about and genuine behavior flows directly and appropriately in response to the circumstances. I find though that it takes time and training to be grounded in the truth 24 hours a day so it can be handy to have relative practices like doing no harm as well. Also, not everyone is ready to operate at that level quite yet!

      In my own case, I saw the annoyance clearly but I followed the impulse instead of letting it pass. Naturally, only harm can come from annoyance. But like you have said so well, it’s an opportunity to liberate an area of unconsciousness.

      I appreciate your meticulous dedication to vigilance and the approach you have shared with us here. Thanks ever so much. You are a great inspiration.

  11. Hi Sandra,

    I agree that it is so easy to hurt someone’s feelings. In reality, many of us do so without realizing it or realizing too late to stop ourselves. While reading your story about pop up windows and your annoyance, it reminded me of a recent article I wrote on avoiding misunderstandings. Clearly you had a build up of frustration over pop up windows. But because your friend had no idea what you have gone through, she could not appreciate where you were coming from. Luckily you and your friend worked out your misunderstanding.

    The feelings we feel, the anger and frustration are real. It is hard to suppress them or to ignore them especially when we keep on facing the same annoying situation. I believe that your friend would have reacted differently if she understood exactly why you felt the frustration she did. Then she would realize it is not her, but the pop-ups in general. Also if we focus on the solution, like going to the blog article from google reader or something, we might be able to avoid pop ups.

    I for one never like to bring harm to others. But sometimes, just committing consciously to not harming is not enough. This after all requires conscious effort on our part which can be hard for us if we are impulsive by nature. A more natural way of avoiding harm to others is to always look at the bigger picture. We must always be aware of our actions and consequences and the motivations behind actions. If we are able to place ourselves in the shoes of others, we will often be slower to anger because it is not just our own point of view that we consider. Seeing the big picture helps to avoid misunderstandings and bringing harm in a more natural manner.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • These are great suggestions, Irving. I agree with you that this was a case of misunderstanding and once we communicated more of the details, as you suggest, we were able to work it through together.

      I don’t think we should ignore or suppress feelings. But I agree with Mike and Zeenat that it’s good to push the pause button and take a look at what’s going on before responding. Then there’s a better chance to focus on solutions as you suggest. Like Gail says, as soon as you see certain strong emotions rising up, it’s a clue that we are not operating from a clear place.

      You are right that it’s not easy to simply force ourselves to not harm if we are impulsive by nature. Consciously committing to not harming is an important first step. Looking at the big picture and putting ourselves in another person’s shoes are both highly supportive methods to help us achieve our aspiration. Thank you for suggesting them here.

  12. Dear Sandra,

    This is an important story, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I too am greatly annoyed by pop-ups and generally avoid visiting sites who use them frequently. While you do not want to harm others, I don’t think it is helpful to brush your feelings aside – they are as valid as a blogger’s desire to use pop-ups. I think that pop-ups need to be talked about in an honest, caring way. Perhaps if you have been annoyed by pop-ups and feel the impulse to complain about it to the person, take moment to pause, as other commenters have recommended, and think of a way to bring up the topic from a place of love. What other people do with their blogs is a very sensitive and personal thing, so if you present your words in a caring way, they will likely be more receptive.

    While I think it is important to be meticulously mindful of your words and actions, I think it is dangerous to suppress or brush aside your true thoughts and feelings in hopes of not harming others. In my view, if the other person cannot take what you have to say, even if you have presented it with the utmost love and care, then you are at no fault.

    It’s a give and take. Can they receive your constructive criticism or honest feedback? If they cannot, that speaks to their character.

    • Hi Lynn,

      I’m with you – I don’t believe we should ever suppress or brush aside our true thoughts and feelings. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m not keen on over-indulging them either! You’ve hit on some really key points in your comment. When we take a moment to pause and communicate from a place of love, it almost always transforms the whole experience. This is incredibly important to remember, “What other people do with their blogs is a very sensitive and personal thing…” I’m so glad you have the sensitivity to see this and bring it forth here.

      I clearly made a mistake in how I communicate and I have learned so much from it! Thanks for your thoughts, Lynn. They are especially helpful.

  13. I appreciate the careful attention to your own story–listening to the way you listened to your negative response. Pop-ups. So small, but it is like 20th century interruption. A billboard.

    That said, I also believe in “severe mercy.” In his reflections on his wife’s death, CS Lewis chronicles his grief (aptly called, ‘A Severe Mercy’), and considers ways in which the pain of life–from the buzz of a gnat to the death of a lover–can take us into to deeper realms of love and trust.

    I think we can always be merciful, but this is not always kindness. As an educator, I do not see the world in black/white. I DO have to hold students accountable for wrong action, or I am enabling them to a narrower, more harmful way of life. This is severe mercy. It sucks, but I mindfully go forward.


    • Hi Mark,

      I’m so glad you’ve taken a moment to leave this important comment. Absolutely, we do need to be able to discriminate between right and wrong and hold our self and others accountable for our actions. The pain of life is always prompting us forward. It can definitely can take us into deeper realms if we allow it too. This sounds like a profound piece by CS Lewis.

      “Severe” mercy sounds akin to tough love, if I understand your point correctly. Every parent knows the necessity of drawing lines, which may at times appear unkind. I’m not sure that severe mercy is necessarily without kindness. Often it can be the epitome of kindness. But, it seems to me, you really need to have a certain level of clarity and wisdom to express severe mercy properly and it’s best expressed when there’s a foundation of respect and love to begin with. Otherwise, the harshness may be traumatic rather than effective.

      Your point is very well taken though and I do agree. Nothing we are speaking of here is simple!

  14. I wonder how often my intrinsic laziness saves me from hurting someone’s feelings. I don’t like pop-ups, but since it takes two seconds to close one and two minutes to write the blogger about them…well, I’m pretty sure I would have chosen the first path. (Not because I’m enlightened or strive nearly as hard as you do not to do harm — that’s just laziness!)

    I don’t always take into account how others may take my words, and I’m sure that has caused some hurt feelings in the past. At the same time, I’m not sure that consideration for other people should censor what I want to say, or what I feel to be the truth. Sometimes being shocked or angry has caused me to think more deeply and revise my opinions and actions for the better. I think your opinion prompted your friend to think honestly about the role of pop-ups on her page and do something about them, probably to the benefit of her blog. The real question is: was it worth hurting her feelings for?

    • Hi Jennifer,

      It looks like inertia can sometimes be our best friend! I wouldn’t want people to censor themselves or hesitate from speaking the truth. I myself would rather hear the truth. So I agree with you fully in that regard.

      The issue for me boils down to whether I’m in control of my mouth or whether I follow whatever impulses arise. While I value the expression of truth, I also know that there are times when people are more receptive to the truth. So in the end, my aim is to have a positive motivation and be in control of what I express instead of being enslaved by a passing impulse. That word “truth” is a funny one too! My truth may be far different than yours!

      My friend was very receptive to investigating and exploring if the pop up wasn’t working properly once we got over the initial hump of my poor communication. To answer your question, no – in my view – it wasn’t worth hurting her feelings. But again, this is a minor issue and just an annoyance for me. It’s not about a major truth and I certainly don’t advocate being a people-pleaser at the expense of the truth. At the same time, the more we are able to communicate in a pleasant way, the more effective we will probably be. Of course, none of this is simple! I really appreciate the points you’ve added to the conversation. I might become a fan of laziness when it comes to expressing myself too much!

  15. Hi Sandra,
    I can say I’ve been in both pair of shoes. And I’ve got a pop-up! It’s only suppose to come up once. I’m not sure how I would know if it works that way if someone didn’t tell me.

    I do understand why your friend has one and why you find it annoying!

    I don’t think you should beat yourself up because you are harming yourself.

    I whole heartedly agree with choosing words, thoughts and actions that are loving. I’m sure you’ve read how I struggle with my son-in-laws. I’ve learned to keep my mouth closed the hard way! But I’d say for the last five years I’ve been able to do it.

    How do I know what’s good for anyone else when half of the time I don’t know what’s good for myself?

    Also I was in my mid-thirties when a friend who was 20 years older than I told me that all unasked for advice is verbal abuse. I heard him but didn’t heed his advice right away. However here I am nearly 20 years later and not only do I practice it most of the time I’m not nor is anyone else perfect.

    I’ll still love you if you never visit my blog again due to my pop-up. You’re the best. xoxo

    • Hi Tess,

      No fears – not that you would go into fear anyway! 🙂 I’ve already seen you pop up and survived the experience. It’s only appeared once. Hallelujah! Clearly, my probably is with the ones that pop up each and every time I visit.

      I’m definitely not beating myself up. I sincerely believe in being vigilant with our thoughts, words, and actions. But I also no that no one is perfect so it makes sense to forgive others and our self too. I’m not stuck in a place of guilt at all.

      You’re example of your relationship with your son in law is a good one. Sometimes, it just makes so much more sense to keep our mouths shut. In fact, there’s a lot more freedom in being able to make the choice than simply operating on automatic and creating a mess. Thanks for sharing this example, it really hits on the point well. I agree fully about unsolicited advice, but like you say, I do slip up from time to time!

      So I still love you – pop up and all! Even a pop up couldn’t keep me away from your blog. 🙂

  16. It’s strange because I don’t even know how to comment. On the one hand, my European side says, “Why not be honest and truthful about what bothers you, as long as you’re not attacking someone to hurt them deliberately?” And then there’s my American side that says, “You cannot say what you want to or you might offend someone here in the U.S.” I find this so strange, and struggle with being two different people depending on which side of the planet I’m on. So I have to adapt to where I am in the world.

    • That’s very interesting, Sonia! Thanks for adding this perspective. Often, we think the way our immediate world operates is the one and only way, but actually there is so much variance from culture to culture!

  17. Sandra,

    Bloggers can view feedback as gifts chock full of learning opportunities… or we can get hurt feelings and not learn anything at all about our online presence. I think you’re being too hard on yourself — but kudos for turning it into self reflection and learning.

    Keep writing,

    • Thanks for your perspective, Susan. It wouldn’t be helpful to live in a world without feedback, that’s for sure. I agree, the more we can view everything as a learning opportunity, the better our life will be.

  18. Hi I just popped over to your blog and loved reading this .. thank you for sharing it with the WWW. What struck me was this one sentence
    “Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain.”
    Now reflecting on that – is it not better to speak of your feelings to another than to keep quiet and continue to feel hurt by them?
    Friends are there to share and care about each other and if it is bugging you – as it buigs me too – then is it not better it came from a friend than your friend continued oblivious to the affects?

    • Hi Ally,

      This is a good question. I’m not sure there is a simple or easy answer. I completely agree that we should never stuff our feelings and it’s also best not to indulge in them, as best we can. We can be aware of our feelings though without necessarily choosing to express them. Sometimes it is sensible to express your feelings and sort them out with your friend. Other times, it’s more effective to look within and see where the hurt is coming from in you. As I said, I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this question. Each circumstance is different.

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