“The whole world is a door of liberation, but people are unwilling to enter it,” wrote an ancient Chinese Buddhist philosopher. He was on to something.
One type of door that we often refuse to enter is the one that liberates us from conflict. By letting go of the byproducts of petty slights—pangs of irritation, anger and hurt pride—we advance to a more positive, productive frame of mind.
To walk through that door, jettison the negative emotions that linger after someone humiliates you or makes a stinging or discourteous comment. Sweep away your bitterness and move on. Use these tools to help you overcome pointed jibes:
Impose a time limit. It’s natural to feel annoyed at someone who makes a hurtful remark. But many people inflate the importance of a jerk’s insult, dwell on it and ratchet up tensions by reacting impulsively. In-stead, give yourself a deadline of, say, 5 or 10 minutes to stew in anger. Then let it go when time runs out.
Laugh it off. Make a conscious choice of how you’ll respond to a slight. Say to yourself, “I’m going to let this ricochet off me” or “That’s kind of funny.” Smile or laugh a little as you shift gears and focus on more pressing concerns.
Pull a different trigger. A nasty taunt can raise your defenses. But instead of letting someone’s cutting comment activate your anger or aggressiveness, anchor your mind with a relaxing image. Whenever you’re tempted to lash back at a rude adversary, visualize a fun beach scene, a star-lit sky or some other calming mental picture.
Delete the comment. Pretend you didn’t hear it. Change the subject and speak as if nothing’s amiss.