Today, two people I know shared their stories with me. They’d broken up. I had lunch with one of them, and had dinner with the other. One person shared her side and the other person shared his. I knew the guy more so I was tempted to take his side, and then it dawned on me: which story was true? I concluded both. I understood both of their pains – merely reflections of how they interpreted the circumstance that led to the fall of their relationship. One person said she was doing too much, and the other person said he wasn’t doing enough – signs that they are just not for each other. And that’s okay. As life goes on, you learn what shoes don’t fit, but you won’t know until you try some on. As the listener, our responsibility is to literally listen. If the person is tearing up the other person, I’ve learned not to partake in their verbal vengeance, a sign of their own weakness and pain. Most importantly, when this happens, it is also not wise to use a hurt person’s judgment of the other person as reflection of the other person’s character, especially when you don’t really know the other person, his or her true side. As I’ve learned: there are three sides to every story, the sides of both people and the truth. And even though you really know the person who is telling you the story, how do you know it isn’t biased, even if only a little, to favor him or her? As humans, when we are hurt, we tend to thirst for justice, and one way we think this can be achieved is exploiting our “victim card.” I hate to admit it but I’ve done it, and try my best not to do it anymore. I’m pretty convinced that many of us has done this too. For example, a long time ago, when I’d been deeply hurt, I would underline the terrible things this person has done to me; I would emphasize how terrible this person was and would – though inadvertent – seek the pity of others because, for some reason, I thought that exploiting this person’s misconduct made me appear stronger. But after awhile and after gaining some wisdom that could only be obtained through age and experience, I’ve realized and observed that stronger people don’t go around telling the world just how bad the world has treated them, they quietly understand through the pain that the other person’s misconduct isn’t a reflection of their character, but a reflection of the person who caused the hurt; they have a quiet understanding that no one is perfect; instead of seeking revenge, they focus on refining their own lives so that they have little time to tear down their perpetrator; so, this is what I do now, or at least try. After all, Martin Luther King Jr. – a remarkable example of one who rose above hurt and pain and sought peace instead of revenge – said, “Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.” As someone speaking from experience, sometimes choosing the higher road is the toughest. And actually, you won’t always be able to. But the more you practice, the more you tell yourself and condition your brain that you will only allow positive thoughts – even in moments of hurt – I believe that eventually we are all capable of rising above the hurt and pain. As for today, I sensed one was endeavoring to choose the higher road by using precursors like “I know it’s not his fault” or “we are just different,” and the other was borderline slandering. I listened to both equally and comforted them, and encouraged them both that instead of focusing on what the other person did wrong, to focus on what they’ve learned from this relationship to help have a healthier one in the future. At the end of the day, no one was wrong for how they felt. And while there are healthier ways of expressing our personal trials, our anger, the truth is that we are all weak and will all respond how we shouldn’t. But we must learn from this, that the mark of truly strong people is not showing their strength to the world, it’s personal victories – like rising above revenge – the world may never see. They don’t play the victim, they play the victor. And being the victor means they don’t take advantage of or exploit the terrible things that’s happened to them, they learn from it. They use it as a means of introspection and understanding themselves, physical proof to themselves of just how resilient they are. Once they’ve had their moment of grief, they move on – as stronger people.