Dealing with other human beings can be exhausting, demoralising and incomprehensible. It’s like an endurance test designed by somebody with a particularly cruel imagination. A colleague, who we thought we had a good working relationship with, slights us for no apparent reason. A potential employer rants at us down the phone because we happen to ring at the wrong moment. Sometimes we can be treated with contempt just for trying to do our job. Other times it can feel as though we are just not being given the opportunities to fulfil our potential because others cannot properly see what we have to offer.
But raging against those who do not treat us in the way that we think we deserve is a complete waste of time and energy, no matter how unjust we think their behaviour towards us is.
So, what to do?
The great Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, said that if anyone treats you shabbily, it’s because they think it is in their own best interests to do so, not in your best interests, in their best interests. He says that if we regard their behaviour as wrong-headed, then it is they who are losing out, not us, because they hold an incorrect view of us and don’t realise that what we have to offer actually serves their interests. Epictetus says that if we proceed with this point of view, we will not be disturbed by shabby treatment. The next time someone reviles you he says, just think to yourself; “it seemed so to him”.
Sounds good to me.