Forgive Your Brother (or Sister or Friend)

Perhaps your brother messed something big up. Maybe he owes you some money. Maybe he overstayed his welcome at your house or he won’t respect your wishes. Maybe it’s a different family member. Maybe it’s a friend. After all, every family and every friendship has its dysfunctions.

What do you do?

“My brother is wronging me,” Epictetus says in one exchange, and then answers his own complaint. “Very well, maintain the relation that you have towards him; don’t look to what he is doing, but to what you must do if you are to keep your choice in harmony with nature.”

What does he mean? He means that your relationship with your family matters. He’s saying that what your family does is outside your control. How you respond, how you forgive, what you decide to take personally, how you come to understand them and their own struggles, that’s in your control. Focus on that. Don’t allow yourself to be abused, of course, but learn to forgive and focus on your own contributions. It’s the best way forward.

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