|Marcus Aurelius Meets Difficult People
||One of Marcus Aurelius' most common exercise themes is the question of how to work with aggressive or difficult people. His meditations are filled with sentences like, "If he did wrong, the harm is to himself. But perhaps he did not do wrong" (Med. 9.38) and "When another blames or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realise that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you. But you should still be kind to them. They are by nature your friends, and the gods too help them in various ways" (Med. 9.27), and "Train yourself to look at their souls naked. When they think that their blame will hurt or their praise advantage, what a conceit that is!" (Med. 9.34). This exercise challenges you to discover a similar equilibrium toward the difficult and aggressive person or people in your life. The ancient Stoic philosophers argue persuasively that these people are themselves suffering from the illness of great passions, and, in a sense, they deserve our pity and our help rather than our anger.