Socrates’ advice on how to deal with insults and offensive comments

Personal Development & Growth Self Awareness Spirituality Stories and Parables

Socrates’ advice on how to deal with insults and offensive comments

By now, you will have figured out that I love stories. After Socrates’ story on gossip, I am back with another story, this time around about insults or offensive comments or remarks.

The unprovoked insult

One day, as Socrates was walking in the market talking with one of his acquaintances, a rich aristocrat, someone publicly offended him shouting:

– You are a skunk, a charlatan, a pervert and a drunk!

Socrates did not say anything to try to defend himself against the insults. He just smiled and shook his head.

The acquaintance’s reaction

The rich aristocrat was shocked to see that Socrates had done nothing to try to refute the man’s insults. So, he asked Socrates:

– How can you tolerate such an offence? Do you not feel bad?

Socrates smiled again and said, “Come with me!”

The filthy cloak

His acquaintance followed him to an old and dusty warehouse. When they were both in, Socrates lit a torch and began to search around until he found a useless, dirty, tattered cloak, full of holes and insects on it. He gave it to the rich man and told him: “Wear it, it will suit you.”

The man looked at the wretched, disgusting garment, and immediately felt offended. He said to Socrates bursting with indignation:

– “Are you out of your mind Socrates? How could you even think that I would ever wear this rag?” He was so angry that he threw the cloak back to Socrates.

The invaluable lesson

– “You see”, Socrates said, “of course, you did not accept to wear the dirty cloak. In the same way, I did not accept to keep and “wear” the foolish and dirty words that that man shouted at me. When someone gives you something that you do not want, you do not accept it. If you do not accept it, whom does it belong to? Getting upset and angry by offensive comments is like accepting to wear the rags someone throws at you.”

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