What to Do When Someone Calls You Stupid

The argument was heated. You know you messed up but her reaction was uncalled for. Yet, miraculously, things just continued to escalate.

“Look, I just don’t think it’s a big deal!”, you shout in frustration. One look at her face gives you the sinking feeling that those were not the right words.

“Somehow you never seem to!”, she retorts, eyes narrowed and lips pressed thin. “In fact, you never seem to think at all! You have got to be one of the stupidest men I’ve ever laid my eyes on!”

Lazy. Worthless. Good for nothing.

It doesn’t matter what the argument was about or what was said later or if it’s ever resolved. Those words will linger. You will never completely forget them.

So what do you do?

Shun your partner? Quit your job? Never speak to your mother again?? (Really, Mom? Really? That was low!)

It’s Not About Them

As I see it, you really only have two choices. Either you’re going to prove her right or prove her wrong.

Whatever it took to lead up to this moment, at this point…

It’s All About You

Look, I get it. It hurts. It was wrong and you’re angry about it. And you could go on being angry about it for 5, 10 or 20 years. But the real question is, what are you going to do about it?

And I do mean, what are you going to do about it? Because, believe it or not, no matter how good it feels in the moment, ranting and raving or sulking isn’t true action.

The real and incredibly difficult question to ask yourself right now is:

Is it true?

Immediately followed by:

Is any part of that true?

That was is just to counter your immediate knee-jerk, gut response of, “Of course it’s not true!!” Also consider asking yourself:

What you would like to be true?

Would you like to be considered hardworking, charming, fashionable, clever? When you adopt a growth mindset all these things and more are possible, regardless of where you are starting from right now.

So what do you really want to be true about you, your life or your character?


What would it take to make that happen? Followed by what might be the most important question:

What’s the first step I can take in that direction?

If you’re accused of being lazy, just for instance, because I know that you aren’t personally. Then ask yourself questions like:

Have I really been giving my best effort?
Am I just unmotivated?
Is there where I want to be or what I want to do? 
Am I simply using Facebook, Youtube or Medium to avoid an uncomfortable truth?

The answers will likely lead to more questions:

How much could I accomplish if I really tried?
Why am I doing this? What would motivate me to try harder?
What do I really want?
What have I been avoiding and what can I do to tackle it head on?

At some point, your series of questions will guide you to your first steps on a new path:

I’m going to create a loose schedule for my time after work.
I don’t really want to be in this job, relationship or part of the world….
I’m going to learn a language or plan a trip or take a class or try online dating — I want life to be more interesting.

But before you grow your hair out and buy that new Harley-Davidson…

I don’t want the pain of these words to linger and fester in your subconscious so, remember it’s never all about you. It’s really…

All About Them

They just need to learn to be a bit more pessimistic. Yes, I actually said pessimistic.

“Trade your expectations for appreciation.” — Tony Robbins

But facing a reality you don’t like, one that may have repercussions you like even less, can be an extremely difficult thing — especially for those stubborn, individualists who are determined to shape reality as they see fit.

Elon Musk: can be unreasonable, volatile and quite angry. He’s also an incredible optimist.

You could try to gently explain to your angry partner, boss or relative that the world will not always bend to their whims or imagined expectations but that would likely only end up in a shouting match.

A much better reply is simply:

“I”m sorry you feel that way.”

In that one line, you’ve offered the words, “I’m sorry” which we are conditioned to respond to as a society, without actually apologizing for the situation at hand. Instead, you’re simply saying that I care how you feel which, hopefully, of course, is true.

This is an infinitely better reply than, “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!”

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