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The Art of Forgiveness and the Consequences of Anger

14481448 Massachusetts New

I live in an apartment-style suite in college. We are a very massive unit, with 10 people in total, including myself. As a result, many issues that we face arise from a lack of communication and consideration for others. Its main focus of conflict is cleanliness in the kitchen and bathrooms.

While the latter is (relatively) solved through a list of who cleans what by what day, the kitchen is an entirely different story. Many people leave dishes filled with food on the stove and it is very wasteful. One of the people in the suite collected the dirty dishes and put them in a tub, and that was met with a lot of anger. He eventually apologized, though I was not affected.

However, I had become extremely angry at the lack of care people seemed to have for the space and, specifically, the possessions within it. I proceeded to take away all the things I had bought with me (I go to college out-of-state) or buying with my own money and store it in my room. I figured that, if they really wanted something, they would have to ask.

This did not turn out to be fruitful. Not only did it require extra effort for me (as compared to everyone else), but it caused me to lose my student ID and make me miss my appointment, which in turn caused a lot of disappointment in myself.

I've been reading a lot on self-cherishing and the consequences of anger, and now realise the extent of my mistakes. I have put everything back and feel very upset for the ones I have hurt.

Have any of you done something similar? What can be done about people who seem to ignore the basics of living with others?


  • CarameltailCarameltail UK Veteran
    edited February 2018

    I find that the more people in a house the harder it is to keep things clean and organised. With that many people it makes sense to have clear rules. I don't think I could cope with so many people. Then again it does very much depend on the specific people and the communication.

    My first housemates were not very nice to me. I joined later on and they did not help me fit in or understand what any house rules were or how they did cleaning even though I specifically asked all these things. Most of the time i could hear bitching it could be about me or anyone. The whole house had the most negative vibes and probably the first time i felt so angry. There were only five of us but even that was too much for me. The one person who did make effort to talk to me was kinda patronising but she was ok however and I didn't mind her. In the end it just made me withdraw a lot or spend excessive time out the house which at least meant I got exercise I guess 0-o
    Even the walks I took to no where when I was upset were really fun and interesting, sometimes I saw birds and I went to the near by woodland. Or night walks when I saw the stars or heard the blowy wind. That made me feel better.

    I also lost a fork due to these people using it and it was a very expensive fork not the normal metal sort but with a proper handle.
    I'll be honest I kept most of my stuff in my room that year but these people couldn't really be trusted and the little food i kept in the fridge they would complain about which was very strange.
    In the end there was a whole argument over money which lasted for months. :/ I guess though there is no point seeking revenge or anything here, let the negative be negative. I wish I did confront them a little better but what could I do, being kinda uncomfortable with them even after I tried to be friendly I was pushed away.

    The year after I switched houses and housemates and everything was way way better. There were problems with cleaning here and there but it didn't lead to too much problems really.
    It helped in a sense there were only 4 people all together and we were all very different. It felt good to feel safer though some of the paranoia I gained remained with me for a short while. There was a general nice feeling of casual and chillness so that was good.

    The stuff that happened to me was something that was quite a learning experience for me even though it was much like a hell.
    I think sometimes you have to let people off, othertimes confront them. But don't hold anger or resentment it will come back and hurt you. I held a lot of pain for ages and it still affects me slightly but when you release feelings that feels healthy.

    With food waste you could hint that you don't want things left around, that you think food waste sucks or even that you are happy to eat what people aren't able to. It's crazy that people waste so much food though but sometimes I guess people tend to leave stuff around.
    If it was me i'd keep it in the fridge or freeze it if I needed to. Also I do sometimes do others cleaning so long as they generally do contribute to the house in someway and sometimes I ask people if I can move something. Being proactive and generally positive helps. And keeping in touch via a chat group helped.

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Why don't you all pool finances and hire a cleaner?

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran
    edited February 2018

    The only one who has NOT dealt wit these issues ... is the hermit in a cave.
    We all run into times when we wish others handled things the same way we do. We all run into times when we try to get our way with anger. This is so in families. This is so with roommates. This is so with co-workers. With salesclerks, other drivers, etc. And especially so with our spouses, since the closer our life is to the life of another person, the more these issues matter.

    "8 Verses for training the mind" is a centuries-old Buddhist prayer for how to inwardly approach these situations. It will not change you, of course, but it does help to remind us of how we are attempting to change our inner landscape/responses.
    (it has taken me years of practice to stop balking at these verses ... they go against everything our culture raises us to cherish ... or self-cherish. And even now I often forget to apply it)

    As for being upset for having hurt others. Apologize. See them with compassion. And see yourself with compassion too ... understand that until enlightenment, we are all ignorant. Our poor behaviors stem from mistaken attempts to remove our discomfort, and awareness of our flaws can be either an excuse to flagellate ourselves OR to be a motivation to Practice more. As the Dalai Lama said: "We are all in the same boat. Unhappy and only trying to be happy".
    So have compassion for all ... others AND for yourself.
    As Buddhists, we try to remain mindful and we try to remain compassionate, but we understand that we will not consistently be so until enlightenment. Our efforts, in Buddhism, revolve around changing our relationship to our own inner responses, rather than changing outer circumstances.

    You have made a huge step in seeing yourself clearly and in understanding how anger contributes to our own suffering.
    I can only add this, one of my favorite quotes:
    “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @1448 said:

    What can be done about people who seem to ignore the basics of living with others?

    A better question to ask the/your self is "What can "I" do when these feelings arise within ?"

    Jack Kornfield on "What Forgiveness Means"

    Bearing in mind that how people act is their karma and..... how you react is yours :)

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Ehipassiko & Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @Shoshin said:

    @1448 said:

    What can be done about people who seem to ignore the basics of living with others?

    A better question to ask the/your self is "What can "I" do when these feelings arise within ?"

    When we realize how little we can do about other people's behaviour, we realize it all boils down to what can I do about mine.

    Not that we are much in control about anything in life anyway, but we do have some measure of control about the way we choose to respond/react in any given situation.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Hold a house meeting. Someone needs to lay out the home care needs, and delegate them out (or let people choose and delegate/rotate what remains). My son lives in a suite at college and they do this on the first day. It mostly works out pretty well. It's not perfect, but then they have something to refer to to go to the person/people who aren't cooperating and ask that they comply with what they agreed to. If they don't, they have an easier way to involve mediation from RAs and so on. It's never come to that for them but their campus housing offices recommended it.

    If someone else cleans up for them, then why should they change their behavior? Put all their stuff on their bed so they have to deal with it. dirty dishes and all. I do it to my kids all the time and it works pretty well, because on top of cleaning up their pig sty of a mess, they now have to do their bedding laundry, too.

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