It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.


It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.Epictetus

If a person did this, you would likely be insulted. Why not with a bear? Next time, imagine it's a bear, not a person, and refuse the insult.

If a person did this, you would likely be insulted. Why not with a bear? Next time someone does it, imagine it’s a bear, and refuse the insult. Can you do that?

What does that mean?
I like this quote. It has an interesting perspective on things, and that is what the quote is all about.

Someone shouts an insult at you, and you believe you have been insulted. Someone slaps you on the face or spits in your face, and you believe you have been insulted. But in reality, all they have done is said a word.

All they have done is strike or spit on you. The actual insult is your opinion of their action, nothing more. Yes, there are societal norms, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them.

Imagine the shock and awesomeness of you laughing at someone who just tried to insult you. We can choose to be insulted, or we can ignore it. That is our choice and ours alone.

Some feel a need to respond. Is that acting from a position of strength, or a position of weakness? What reaction are they trying to get from you? Will you obey them, or thwart them? It is a choice.

Why is making a conscious choice important?  
We do so many things automatically. Walking across a room. Taking a shower. Chewing our food. Breathing the air. Drinking fluids. Responding to insults. Habitual responses have their place. I wouldn’t want to hae to remember how to climb the stairs every single time, right?

Yet there are times when the habitual response is not in our best interest. Sometimes it is cultural, sometimes it’s personal, but it’s always a choice, provided we remember that it is, and consciously choose to take a particular action. Not out of habit, but out of a conscious decision.

If you always grabbed what was put in front of you and started drinking, you could end up in a world of hurt in a paint store, right? OK, that’s a pretty silly example, but it got you thinking, didn’t it? We save a lot of time by reacting out of habit.

But in acting out of habit, we also miss opportunities to do better, or to avoid problems. Have you gotten into a habit of responding to a certain comment from a loved one, and accidentally responded the usual way when someone else said that magic phrase? Oooops!

Where can I apply this in my life?
I could fill the next three posts with habit-based fails. I am a creature of habit, and that can really be a problem. On some days, I can manage to embarrass myself or mess up several times. All in one day. That’s not good. But it’s a habit.

When someone insults you, the first thing that usually happens is you get angry. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t do my finest thinking and decision making when I’m mad. Would I be too far out of line to go so far as to presume the same of you?

So, to me, the first step is to try to short circuit the anger response. That is both easy and difficult at the same time. When you’re calm and thinking rationally, it is easy to do. However, when someone catches you off guard, what do you do now. That’s the real test.

Can you practice switching a smile for anger? Every time you feel yourself starting to get angry, can you smile, even just a little? Your experience may be different, but I cannot smile and be angry at the same time. One drives the other out.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You may well have reason to be angry in some situations. But I want you to make a conscious decision to be angry. There are plenty of other things to be instead. You can be upset, disappointed, boggled, surprised, annoyed, and so many other things.

But the whole point of the quote is to make a conscious decision to be insulted or to be something else. Only you can make that decision. What will you decide? What will the results be, should you choose to be insulted or if you choose some other response?

It is your choice, it is your decision, and the results or consequences will also be yours. Personally, I believe that “but they insulted me” is a lousy excuse for a fight, or even a nasty verbal exchange.

Ideally, we would rise above that behavior. I hope one day I will as well. Will you beat me there?

From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/epictetus387164.html
Photo by Mark Dumont

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About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in anger, choice, habits, judgement, strength, weakness and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It is not he who reviles or strikes you who insults you, but your opinion that these things are insulting.

  1. A very good website providing a very good quotes on philosophy

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