Suffering you cause other people?


Hi Brooke! Just working through something and want to check that I’m on the right track. What’s the right way to think about suffering you cause other people?

For example, there’s a guy I’ve been seeing casually who I want to break up with. He is much more invested in the relationship than me and I feel sad because I don’t want to hurt his feelings. I guess the F – sadness is caused by the T – I am causing pain to someone I care about, and also the thought I am a cruel person.

I’m coming to terms with the idea that my actions can’t cause someone elses suffering. His thoughts and feelings about the break up will create the sadness. I also get that trying to prevent others from suffering isn’t a great goal because suffering is a part of life.

The part that I am confused about is that I haven’t always acted with integrity in this relationship. I kind of used this guy to buffer away the pain of another breakup — a rebound I guess, and I also indulged in being confused about how I felt about him, rather than actually confronting the truth that I wasn’t really into it.

I can see that these things will make his suffering worst than it needed to be, and I feel guilty about them.

I’m not sure how to bring all these ideas together. How do I hold myself accountable for the things that I could have done better, while also knowing that my actions didn’t cause his suffering? Is the idea that I can feel the guilt for betraying my own integrity, rather than the suffering it caused? Is guilt even a useful emotion? I am confused :/

Thanks!