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How not to be bothered by trash talk and insults

Hello guys,

we talked recently about what sentences or remarks hurts or angers us. We all have this. In the title I talk about trash talk, but this applies to everything. The stoics have talked about this:

Yes, it does not apply to all situations. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, I think it's desirable to develop this skill.

How to develop this skill?

I think it is to remove as many triggers (buttons) as we can. Basically it's a word or a sentence that triggers automatically an emotion, most of the time a fight-or-flight response (freeze, flee or fight).

  1. Identify: The first step I believe is to identify the triggers: what is the insult, word, sentence that is triggering a specific emotion?
  2. Introspection: if it hurts, why does it hurt? What do I believe that makes it hurt? Why do I believe what the other person says is true? What does it connect to in my past that makes it hurt? What would it be like if I was not feeling hurt, abused or insulted?
  3. Desensitization: this is a concept from cognitive behavioral therapy. There is a neuronal circuit linking the stimulus (word or sentence) to the emotion. By not stimulating this circuit. It will die off by itself. In concrete terms: it means progressive repeated exposure without associating the disagreeable emotion it was linked to.


You have associated anger with being called: "my friend". Now you understand that in your past, an abusive person used these words to control you and make you feel inferior. That created the trigger and the response. "My friend" -> Anger based on the underlying association: "My friend" -> Abuser -> Be careful! -> Activate fight-or-flight mode -> Anger -> Response: "Hey man, I'm not your friend!" (disempowering loop)

Now, when somebody calls you "my friend", you will still feel the anger, but you can observe it without reacting to it. After having done it many times, you will not have this association anymore and you can choose your reaction or build a new positive circuit. "My friend" -> Friendly -> Warm feeling -> Response -> "Hey man, I'm glad I'm your friend, too!" (empowering loop) or "Why are you saying this?" (if not appropriate, this option still exists, but now it's an option, not an automatic reaction.

I also noticed that MMA fighters are very good at protecting their mind from the influence of their opponent. It's an important skill in MMA as if you feel the opponent has the mental edge over you, he's already in a dominant position before the fight even started. So I'll be learning from them, I'll post more videos of them when I'll find some:

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Lucio Buffalmano