“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.” (Lao Tzu)
I’ve talked before about how it’s up to us to choose how we will respond in any given situation; we determine how we’ll feel and think about something. No one has this power over us, unless we give it to them.
Lao Tzu’s quote explains, in the simplest language, how to do that. We simply choose to be intelligent in our own actions, no matter how crazy, illogical or mean others are behaving.
If it helps, think of this example: Let’s say you are a parent and you are having a discussion with your five-year-old son. Your son is losing his cool and throwing a temper tantrum. You have several choices, but let’s distill it to just two: 1) get just as upset as the five-year-old and scream and yell, or 2) be the adult in the situation and remain calm.
In this example, for the situation to be resolved in a productive way, ONE of you has to be the adult. And since the other party involved is only five years old, that means it has to be YOU.
Consider this the next time you are deciding how to respond to someone who is treating you unfairly, unkindly, etc. no matter what their age. Remember that to get any kind of productive result, ONE of you needs to be the adult. And if they are acting childishly, then it will need to be you.
This doesn’t mean you have to be serious in your response — it could be a playful, light-hearted reply. What matters is that you are in control of your emotions, you have thought about what you want to say/do before you say/do it, and you are consciously aware of your words/actions. In other words, you are fully present and aware in the moment.
I encourage you to try this the next time someone treats you unfairly or rudely. Remember Lao Tzu’s words and choose to respond intelligently.