Question: “I’m just beginning to learn about Buddhism. My question is how to handle when someone deliberately disrespects you. How do you stay enlightened, and what is the best way, spiritually, going about the situation. Thank you for everything that you have posted, it is very helpful.”
My post on Dealing with Difficult People might help also.
The best way to go about the situation is to simply let it go. I know it’s easier said than done, but there’s no better way to deal with such people than to show compassion to them. You want them to know that you won’t sink down to their level of ignorance and hate. Psychologically, when a person disrespects, is rude or mean, etc., it’s simply a defense-mechanism because they feel unworthy or superior. So by showing compassion, you’re stating that you are neither as low as they are or as superior – you’re simply the better person.
You want to lead by example. Perhaps if this person is difficult several times and you’re always doing nothing but sharing loving-kindness and loving-compassion, then maybe they’ll finally walk away and say, “they’re always nice to me when I’m being rude to them. Maybe next time I can try to be a little nicer.” Eventually that will happen. It might take time, but that will be the end results.
You want to let things go because you can’t change what happened. We don’t have a time machine to go back and stop a person from doing or saying something. So the best thing you can do is acknowledge what happened, learn from it, and let it go.
Just because someone insults you, doesn’t make you what they call you. If someone calls you an idiot, does that make you an idiot? No, it doesn’t. If someone else calls you beautiful/ugly, does that physically make you beautiful/ugly? No. You know you’re not an idiot, so why believe it or let it affect you if someone calls you that? There’s no point, right? I work in retail, so I get people who call me incompetent all the time. Do I let this affect me or get to me? Absolutely not! Why? Because I know I’m highly educated, intelligent, and I know better. I don’t see them working on their Master’s degree, educating themselves, or helping others. People who complain, insult, or are just plain difficult are people who are probably neglected and simply want attention. And if you feed that attention with the same attitude they give (anger, hate, etc.), then you’re just making it worse for the both of you.
The Buddha said, “Hatred never ceases by hatred, but love alone is healed.” Live by that mantra and you and a lot of people you encounter will become much happier people.
Smile and be well!