It seemed so to him.

No man escapes life without having been judged wrongly by some person, somewhere, at some time. It is wise, therefore, to learn how to handle such situations in advance of their arrival, for as Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

As with any challenge in life, the correct handling of such matters requires a clear understanding of the factors involved. When it comes to dealing with false accusation and gossip, I have not found any more elucidating instruction than Epictetus’, penned roughly 2,000 years ago:

When any person harms you, or speaks badly of you, remember that he acts or speaks from a supposition of its being his duty. Now, it is not possible that he should follow what appears right to you, but what appears so to himself. Therefore, if he judges from a wrong appearance, he is the person hurt, since he too is the person deceived. For if anyone should suppose a true proposition to be false, the proposition is not hurt, but he who is deceived about it. Setting out, then, from these principles, you will meekly bear a person who reviles you, for you will say upon every occasion, “It seemed so to him.”

Epictetus was born a slave in Rome and spent much of his adult life in exile after the Emperor Domitian exiled all philosophers from the city. Compared to this, how bad is your life, really? Make this one change in how you carry yourself and you will change the world.

4 thoughts on “It seemed so to him.

  1. Zach

    This approach also allows you to take people’s criticisms so you to make a change if it is necessary, without getting your feelings hurt. If someone feels it is his duty to make a statement like you describe, they must want you to change. Therefore, rather than putting up our defenses, we should examine these supposed hurts to see if there really is somewhere we need to make a change.

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  2. Joy

    In my experience it seems that age lesson’s ones concerns about been falsely accused, it is as you said Gregg, inevitable. But what a great benefit there would be for a young person to not have to wait to get old to learn this critical lesson. So much, so called, righteous indignation is maintained on this basis, it is unfortunately never righteous and never a blessing to the one who carries it. Great consideration Gregg, Thank You!

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  3. Coco

    Avoidance of accusation is often considered the high road approach but it seems to me it’s also the truly wise one. Hubris makes a fool while humility allows the wisdom of time to reveal what only an evolved circumstance can. A rush to judgement is the signature behavior of the ignorant. Your perspective is a welcome option and I think a healthy choice for the heart.

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