“Be the bigger person” – It’s a phrase I’m sure many of you have heard of or have used before. Usually, it creeps around when there’s been tension, an argument or fall out of catastrophic proportions. This could be with someone you know – like a best friend or family member, or someone you’re not too familiar with – like Jane who always steals your sarnies from the work fridge despite the endless amount of passive aggressive post-its you’ve put on them.
So, being the bigger person. What does it mean? There are two main ways I see it:
- To not do an action. I.e: To bite your tongue when Shane is asking for the billionth time if you’d sack your veggie-ness and eat meat if you were stranded on a desert island (though you’d want to say: ‘I’d eat you Shane, does that count?!’). To not sink to the same level and retaliate to those who are bullying you. Internally forgive someone for their comment or action and move on. To agree to disagree.
- To do an action: I.e: To be the first one to step up and apologise in an argument when it’s not necessarily all your fault. Send that bunch of flowers when you know someone you’ve previously fallen out with is grieving. Offer kindness to strangers or people you don’t know very well – tell someone they’ve dropped their wallet, help someone who’s fallen or bake cakes for the next door neighbours you’ve never stopped to ask their names.
But I’ll let you into a little secret. Especially when considering actions, ‘being the bigger person’ incites being a better person than someone else. There seems to be a certain ‘I’m a nicer person’ or ‘I’m more mature’ air about it. A lot of actions (and some non actions) are positive things to do. But if it is done because it makes you feel like you’re better in some way than someone, then it is an entirely selfish and egotistic act. Some will go further and not only see themselves as better, but then judge others for not doing the same things too and seeing them as lesser people. (Sidenote: it’s always better to do a positive action than a mean or negative one even if it done with the sole purpose of making yourself feel like an Angelic Superior Being Sent From the Heavens).
But instead of saying to yourself, ‘I’m going to be the bigger person’ – why not ‘I’m going to do the kindest thing’. Do something because you know it will make someone else feel better or happier. Do it because you know it’s the right thing to do. Cast aside any feelings of pride and say sorry when it’s needed. Send that birthday card to your once best friend. Bake that cake for whats-his-name next door. To quote Cinderella: ‘Have courage and be kind’.