The Final Step of Coexistence

It all started with my newfound love for How I Met Your Mother.

I know, I know — a little late to be jumping on the wagon after five years and six seasons of plot development — but after a whole semester of friends issuing and accepting “challenges” (a la Barney Stinson), I knew I had to give it a go. And while I still have a lot of catching up to do, I have found that this show not only makes me laugh, but it makes me think.

One episode in particular really hit home for me. It was all about the Platinum Rule — that is, “Never, ever, ever, ever love thy neighbor,” or in other words, don’t get involved with someone who lives/works in close proximity to you. After explaining this, Barney then illustrates the eight steps of the Platinum Rule, all of which depict failed relationship attempts in a humorous light. At the end of the episode, Ted (the main character) concludes that there should be a ninth step to Barney’s Platinum Rule: coexistence.

When I saw this episode, I decided that coexistence should play a bigger role at the end of all relationships, romantic or otherwise. Although we may go through some of the other steps (the tipping point, confrontation, falling out, etc.), we ought to eventually let go of all that anger and resentment at some point down the line. We don’t need to rekindle anything, but we should come to terms with whatever has happened and try to let go of as much negative energy as we can.

Let’s face it – we will, at some point, have to work alongside someone who has wronged or hurt us in the past, and we will have two major options:

1) Let that anger boil up until we’re ready to explode.

2) Accept that occasionally we’ll have to spend a little time with this person, and try to let it go.

I know it can be hard. I’ve been struggling with this concept myself for the last few months, but I’ve realized that when you aren’t spending all your time hating someone for what they did to you, you are a lot better off. You accomplish more, you’re happier, and others are more drawn to you than they would be if you spent the entire time scowling.

This doesn’t mean that you should completely disregard what others have done to hurt you in the past, but it does mean that you should live your life without letting the mere presence of those people control your happiness. Maybe that’s what a new year is about – learning to accept the past as the past, and coexist with our demons when necessary.

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