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The Compassionate Eye

The Voices of Namaste Publishing and Our Guests

When Someone Calls You "Stupid," How Do You Respond?

Jul 22, 2010

Hopefully not in schools these days, but when many baby boomers were growing up it was still common for teachers in school to call them "stupid" if they couldn't do their lessons correctly.

At home, some children are frequently called "stupid" or other labels that are intended to put them down.

It happens among friends, too. People get angry with each other, and the name calling begins. Sadly, it's also the case between couples. It may not be the word "stupid," but some other derogatory expression is used.

How do you respond when someone calls you a name or in some way labels you as inferior?

A quite usual reaction—notice I said reaction, not response—is to flare up with indignity. "Don't call me stupid!" To which may be added a retaliatory, "You're the one who's stupid!"

Two friends were driving on a long journey together. At some point in a discussion, one said of the other's opinion on the matter, "That's just stupid." There followed a tense, rage-filled encounter, as the one on the receiving end of the name-calling exploded.

But have you ever considered what part of us reacts when someone insults us?

Of course, it's the ego.

Our true self has never felt stupid in our entire life. How could it? The essence of our being abides in the stillness of knowing its inherent wonder, since it's an aspect of the divine nature, the Presence that's the core of our being.

At the mental and emotionally reactive level, which is where our ego—and its flip side, the pain-body—has its existence, we can quickly feel insulted, put down, hurt. That's because ego is like a balloon inflated with hot air: it has no abiding substance.

The ego is akin to a mirage in the desert. You think you are seeing a pool of water ahead of you as you walk forward, but there's nothing but shimmering heat rising from the desert floor.

The pain-body, the other side of the egoic coin, also has no substance. It's based purely on a story we tell ourselves of how badly life has treated us.

Pop a balloon, and it goes "bang!" That's the explosive emotion we experience when we are in ego or pain-body and someone calls us "stupid."

Our essence, grounded in the divine Presence, is solid, unshakeable, never threatened, never insecure. As a consequence, it's not even touched by a put-down someone sends our way.

When we're in our true being, we're not only not wounded by the comments of others, we're not even nicked. What they say floats right past us, with zero effect.

So if you find yourself reacting, bring your attention to your reaction. Put a little space around what you are feeling. Breathe through it, gently, calmly, with presence. You'll find the emotional tide receding.

The stillness at your center will see the comment for what it was—the person's own insecurity speaking. Then you can love them for who they really are, overlooking entirely their egoic attack.

*Editor's Note: We invite you to check out our author blogs, found under the Inspiration button. Among these, David Robert Ord now writes a daily version of The Sunday Blog, in which he shows how the teachings of Namaste authors like Eckhart Tolle, Michael Brown, Constance Kellough, Ivan Rados, Shefali Tsabary, and others interface with the insights of Jesus and other great teachers from the Western tradition. Also new today is another weekly installment of Journey to Higher Consciousness, which can be accessed on the Home Page of this website.

Tomtom's picture

This happened to me recently but the person did not use such a harsh word but it was still derogatory and out of place as she is part of what is supposed to be a supportive group of friends. Should I avoid this person now that I know what she is capable of doing ths on a regular basis? And should I miss out on further group meeting because of her attendance?

Namaste Radio's picture

I noticed myself saying "dumb-dumb" in reference to a driver on the road who didn't appear to know how to drive. I didn't shout it out the window or anything, I just said it to myself in response to some ridiculous maneuver I had to make in order to move past the disruption she'd created in the middle of the road. It came from a moment of frustration, but I was able to notice it right away and move past it. I can only imagine what it would have caused if I'd leaned out the window and shouted something insulting. It certainly wouldn't have helped the situation.