Dear Cody,

I once heard from someone that it is no ones responsibility but your own to be happy.

But, if someone is mean and emotionally abusive to someone else I believe that they should not be this way. It hurts the others happiness.

So shouldn't we take responsibility for not hurting one another?



You are mixing up categories here.

When someone says it is your own responsibility to be happy, he means that you have to be strong enough not to let others' actions and words have a negative affect on you.  It is part of cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves self-talk and positive thinking.  It is especially helpful when someone is in an unavoidable relationship in which another person is mean or abusive in some way.

That does not mean we have a license to be mean to others, or that we are not responsible for our actions towards them.

Consider this situation: a driver cuts someone off in traffic, and the person cut-off yells, "Learn how to drive, idiot!"  A person with a victimization mentality might think, "Gee, I'm an idiot who doesn't know how to drive." and then be depressed the rest of the day.  Another person might think, "Gee, I'm sorry I made a mistake.  It's not like a killed you!" and then be happy the rest of the day.  The first person cared too much what a stranger thought, the second person didn't care at all.

What doesn't change in the story is that in both scenarios, the second driver acted emotionally and yelled an unkind comment.  He is responsible for yelling that, but is not responsible for how the first driver reacts.

Hope this helps,



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Cody Sain


Society for Re-Evangelization

I will answer questions regarding Catholic teachings and Catholic philosophy, including misconceptions and objections to the faith. I will usually recommend further reading, and I welcome follow-up questions.

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I was raised Southern Baptist and converted to Catholicism in 2003. I'm familiar with many the misconceptions of Catholicism. I also hold an MA in philosophy from Boston College. I have been on All Experts since 2001, when I was in high school, before I was Catholic. I will be reviewing my old answers and offering any corrections or further explanation when necessary.

Knights of Columbus (both 3rd and 4th degree)

BA, Philosophy & Religious Studies: Texas A&M University
MA, Philosophy: Boston College

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