As much as people say the “sticks and stones” rhyme, the truth is that words can hurt. Someone calling you names, and saying bad things about you can make you feel bad. So here are some tips for keeping your head up, and some interesting information that might keep you from seeing someone as putting you down in the first place.
1. Don’t take it too personally.
An ad hominem or personal attack is meant to hurt you in a personal way, but that doesn’t mean that it’s really about you. Sometimes when people with bad coping skills are enraged, they grab for whatever they can instead of focusing on the subject. It’s an attempt to invalidate your argument or “put you in your place”, but it’s because they feel their place or argument is threatened. So instead of wondering if something is wrong with you to make someone say such things, consider that you didn’t make them do anything. They did it because of how they feel, not because of who you are or how you feel.
2. Allow yourself and everyone else the right to their own
Everyone has an opinion, but it’s the one with the strongest reality who wins. Let people think whatever they like. Enjoy a civil debate or even a bit of rough wordplay, but don’t try to thought police anyone. So long as the facts are on the table, people are free to interpret them as they like. Your credibility doesn’t suffer because someone else is daft.
3. Consider the source and nature of the insult.
As far as the source, well, people in general have a tendency to do whatever they are taught by the dominant influences in their environment. Most don’t seek alternative influences because generally, culture is a positive thing and forms its rules for relatively realistic reasons. The problems arise though when people lacking empathy take it upon themselves to attempt to control the behavior and even opinions of others, using some sort of physical or psychological force.
The average person would fail the Milgram test, but some would actually enjoy inflicting pain on others because the “white coats” told them to. Your average online bully running around calling women ugly for disagreeing with them about the quality of Indian vs. Chinese tea or something, would fit in the latter category. He thinks he’s being a rebel when he’s just a rabid conformist.
Think of the Milgram experiment the next time a guy calls you childish names, and it will definitely take the sting off. Eventually, every time you encounter this, you’ll see that they’re just repeatedly pushing a button that does nothing but prove that they are a tool.