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How to Take Insults -- Findings from Personal Interactions with Strangers

Updated: Jul 10

A sad looking boy.

(Note: This article can be regarded as the prequel to this article)

The Path to Resilience

It's possible that only a masochist would love being insulted, as insults may be the bane of many of us. However! The mistake I've made throughout my life is to avoid insult by pursuing pleasure. Many of you might think that's the practical thing to do, but what about resilience? How can we expand our field of potential and ambition if we are not resilient enough to endure the possible predicaments that would stand in our way?

How can we become more known publicly without it? How can we love when love hurts? How can we be assertive if we cannot have the will to withstand confrontations from those who resist?

What about accepting insults as an inevitable possibility? What if, even then, you will be insulted, no matter how much you attempt to retreat from them? You might even fail to learn properly from critics if you refuse to know how to take their words professionally.

"Glass Cannons" and Overcoming Insult-Induced Anxiety

I've detected something interesting in the pattern of some of those who've insulted me. Some of them may be glass cannons. Do you know what that means? It's a term to describe something or someone that is powerful in offense but weak in defense.

Within each of my experiments with such insulters, a weakness may be found, and that is, usually, their ego. Is my assumption correct? Many insulters may feel free to insult others and treat them like dirt. However, some, if not many, of them may run away like cowards if something important to their egos is put into reasonable doubt.

Therefore, it could be possible that people insult others to feel good about themselves. To quote an answer online whom many found useful:

When they point out the flaws in others they take the attention off of their own. They want to bring people down to make themselves higher. It's also about a sense of control. Once they realize that they can make people feel as low as they do, they sort of feed off of it. It's a coping mechanism, no, not a healthy one. But it makes them not feel as insignificant.

For some, it is their own lack of love for themselves. For others, it is their reputation. For even more others, these are values that may hold dear to their hearts: Credibility, tolerance towards the disabled, and emotions that they do not like. I am not sure if there is a human that is proof of a counterattack that can hit their weakness, when all humans have weaknesses. In the case of the need to insult, it also stems from whatever weakness they may be trying to cope with.

Nevertheless, learning more about people can help one use a weakness against them, which might make them stay away from you and never return. Therefore, speaking with strangers, and expanding your circle of interactions, can give you the experience and memory required for you to potentially endure anxiety and insults even more than before. You can learn people to know how to protect yourself against their abuse.

Technically, although not as severe as other forms of abuse, insults are also considered a form of verbal abuse.

I have studied CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy. One of its teachings is this: Experiment with your source of anxiety, bit by bit. With each dose of experimentation, you can get accustomed to the source of your anxiety, and thus, you can have an easier time, handling at least some of your problems.

I'm saying this because I too suffer from anxiety as many people on the spectrum do. I became tougher by myself but the only effective way to become tougher is through either training or experience. With asceticism and by interacting with strangers I applied both.

It all begins with understanding that you shouldn't accept yourself if your current version of yourself stands in the way of the life you want to manifest through your actions. If you'll accept yourself despite the dominant grip of your anxiety over you, you will only make it difficult for yourself to become tougher.

Self-love therefore can be a predicament if the flaws you choose to embrace can and/or deserve to be changed in the name of your attainable hopes and dreams. We better keep in mind, in the name of our mental health, that we can be changed at least to a degree. And our ability to adapt is what allows us to endure this existence.

Individual behavior can be influenced by a complex web of factors, including our environment, social interactions, and cognitive processes. Such factors can often lead to significant changes in personality over time, particularly if individuals are exposed to new and diverse experiences.

Building Character through Imaginary Roleplay:

Imagine yourself as a character, any character or even a real life person that you look up to, like a role model, and consider how they would handle the situation. If your imagined character is mentally tough, try to put yourself in his or her shoes. After all, we admire people because they inspire us with their standards.

My character in mind, which you can study as well, is Dr. Ivo Robotnik from the classic cartoon "The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog." I picked him specifically because he has pride like no other, and as such is too insensitive to be insulted.

A ruthless, satirical warlord, Robotnik is used not only to insult but also to injury and humiliation. Despite his constant defeats at the hands of Sonic, he resumes doing what he does best:

  • Seeing himself as great in every way: Maintaining a positive self-image, even in the face of failure.

  • Accepting defeat without giving up: Recognizing setbacks as challenges to overcome, rather than reasons to surrender.

  • Giving himself promotions: Finding self-worth and validation through the tasks he devises and carries out successfully.

Additional Strategies:

  • Humming a jolly and cartoonish tune: Utilizing humor and positivity to combat and overcome negativity.

  • Accepting the harsh reality of the world: Understanding that suffering is a part of life and avoiding the expectation of constant validation and empathy from others in a world whose respect is to be earned, not be granted right away.

  • Embracing challenges instead of succumbing to vulnerability: Choosing to fight for your mental well-being and resist the urge to withdraw when faced with difficulties. Do so as a habit and you can reduce your vulnerabilities regularly.

By combining these strategies with ongoing learning and self-reflection, you can build the resilience you need to overcome insult-induced anxiety and navigate the complexities of life without resorting to complete isolation or "full hermit mode".

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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