It’s like having mud thrown at your face. That’s how you feel when someone insults you. You feel as if the person’s insulting words made you dirty, and when you don’t do something about the insults, you continue to feel unclean. You also feel that everybody who witnessed you being insulted can also somehow see how dirty you are.
Now some people might say that the best way to react to an insult is to not say anything at all, just let it slide. Maybe say something generic like “Okay” or “Whatever” and forget about it. And at the same time, other people may say that the best way to react is to come up with another cutting insult yourself and throw it back at them. For me, neither of these is effective.
Staying quiet when someone insults you will benefit no one. Both you and the person who insulted you will be hurt. (And let’s be honest, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do). On the one hand, you will remain with that feeling of being unclean and dirty. And later on, when you’re alone somewhere, you will try to make sense of how you feel. You will think back to the insults and start to wonder if the insults are true. You will start to mentally defend yourself, to convince yourself of why the insults are not true. But if they aren’t true, why are they making you feel so bad? Is there maybe a grain of…
And your insulter, on the other hand, will also have the same level of mental trouble. He or she will be trying to make sense of what happened and what it says about him or her. “Am I a bully? Look at how helpless he was. He didn’t even say anything. Why was I so mean anyway? Oh he deserved it surely. But if he was such a bad person, why didn’t he insult me back? Oh, I must be a terrible human being!”
In the end, you both suffer.
If you choose the other way, that is, to throw back another cutting insult at the person, that will still not work because it will make you as equally abusive and cruel as your insulter. And when you speak badly about someone, people don’t associate the bad words with the person in question. They subconsciously associate the behavior you’re describing with you.
So if you say to somebody, “At least I’m not a slut like you! You never hesitate to open up for every disgusting jerk that comes your way! I bet you’re full of STD’s! I bet you’ve infected everything you ever touched with your infected hands!” Well guess what, people won’t associate that out pour of filth from your mouth with the person you’re talking about but with you. You will be the person with the filthy mouth.
Like if I tell you, “Paris is not like those places where people piss on every corner and leave their half-eaten hamburgers all over the place.” The next time someone mentions Paris to you, you will be thinking of the piss and the garbage as you think of Paris. And because the two come to your mind at the same time, they both become unpleasant to you. You associate them with each other. And Paris stops being the City of Love.
So it won’t benefit you to insult them back. Besides, you may be murdering their soul, just as they tried to do to you. No one can tell how seriously they will take your insults. Maybe they will change themselves for the worst. Maybe they will stop believing in themselves and give up on their dreams. And you don’t want to ruin someone’s life.
Returning silence of violence won’t work.
So I propose a truce, a way for both you and your insulter to win from the incidence. How so? Say something. But don’t insult them back, enlighten them.
This is the kind of response that will take a lot of practice to master, a lot of planning and reflecting. It is something that will require you to know yourself, to have a bit of an idea about how people think and the motives they have for doing certain things, and to have a little wisdom about life in general.
Enlightening someone means you show them a different way of looking at things, give them a new perspective, teach them something with what you say, without necessarily insulting them. So for instance if someone calls you stupid just because you don’t know what Call of Duty is, instead of trying to show them how clueless they are themselves, you say, “You can’t expect a fish to climb a tree. I know what I know, and I don’t know what I don’t know. That doesn’t make me stupid.” That way, you don’t insult them necessarily, but you aren’t forced to stay with the mud on your face. You get to relieve yourself of the discomfort of being insulted without trying to fight fire with fire.
It won’t be best to start talking about them and their insecurity, jealousy or something else that you think might be fueling their insults. So, to the previous insult, it won’t most effective to say, “You’re so insecure that you want to make me feel bad about not knowing what that is so you can feel better about yourself!” That is still in itself an insult that will make them keep tossing and turning in their bed at night.
Keep the subject on yourself and speak about ideas and about society and life in general, instead of talking about them and their character. That’s why you have to be self-aware and to have some ideas about people and society.
If you respond by enlightening someone, people are likely to be surprised by what you say, and they might actually resolve to agreeing with you, thereby retracting their insults.
Here are some examples of responses based on Types Of Insults:
- When you’re walking down the road, and some stranger throws a slur at you:
“Hello to you too, my friend. You know insults hurt more when they have a bit of truth in them. You could probably make that insult 10 times better if you knew me more.”
- Someone calls you lazy when you take a break after a long work day.
“You see my friend, it’s all about time management and balance. You have to work hard, but you must always make sure you give yourself time to rest. Everybody needs to refresh themselves once in a while so they can keep working at their peak potential.”
- Someone calls you fat (and you see yourself that you’re gaining a little weight):
“A person’s body size shouldn’t dictate their worth. And a lot of people are perfectly healthy even though they are not as slim as others deem attractive. The most important thing is to just eat healthy and exercise.”
- You left a candy wrapper on the floor and someone calls you a slob.
“You can’t judge a person’s character by one action, my friend. I try my best but I am by no means perfect. I have weaknesses and those weaknesses are part of what makes me, me.”
- Your parents struggle financially and someone calls you poor.
“There is virtue in suffering, my friend. It teaches you to appreciate the good times. You should consider your struggles as mere challenges. They make you stronger as a person. That’s what I do.”
You see, if you look hard enough, you will find a way to make everybody win.
And as always, cheers to life!
P.S: Leave a comment below if you made it through the whole article!