You disturb yourself emotionally; no one else can.


  • You control your emotions.
  • Your emotions come from your thinking.
  • You can combat your own “hurt feelings” by questioning them.

“It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgments concerning the events.”
― Epictetus, Discourses and Selected Writings

“Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.”—Shakespeare

“No one can insult you without your permission.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.” —GF Northall

If you apply this principle to your emotions, it means you are the ironclad ruler of your emotions. No one else can make you feel in any particular way. Only you can. The bottom line in dealing with insults and other slights involves refusing to make yourself feel hurt when insulted, and not using them against yourself. Keep in mind, insults just consist of words and someone’s words can’t hurt you. Only using your own words against yourself, putting yourself down, or condemning yourself can accomplish this dastardly feat.

Study this three-minute exercise to see how it works:

A. (Activating event): My brother, Jonny, called me an idiot.

B. (Irrational Belief): I need his approval. I can’t stand being treated this way.

C. Hurt.

D. What is the evidence, data, or logic proving I need his approval and I can’t stand getting treated poorly?

E. There is no evidence to support my notion that Jonny’s approval is a dire necessity. Although I strongly prefer to have his approval, I don’t absolutely need it. It’s extremely disappointing and frustrating to be criticized in such a way but never awful, terrible, or horrible. It’s uncomfortable to be insulted but I’ve survived discomfort in the past and I’ll survive it in the future. I can still unconditionally accept myself and my life without his approval. Jonny thinking well of me is not the be-all and end-all of my life.

F. Disappointed about Jonny’s negative words; not hurt.

When you’re treated in a demeaning way, refuse to take it super seriously. Don’t use your antagonist’s words against yourself.

Feeling hurt starts with a demand on yourself: “I must do well and get approval, otherwise I’m no good. It’s awful, terrible, horrible he called me an idiot and I can’t stand it.”

This is not meant to say it’s okay to demean someone. It’s not. It’s a poor way to treat another human. In addition, it doesn’t mean when someone insults you, that you won’t feel bad; or if you do feel hurt, that it’s easy to prevent yourself from feeling this way. It involves developing a new perspective of unconditional self-acceptance, unconditional other acceptance, and unconditional life acceptance.

Edelstein, M.R. & Steele, D.R. (2019). Three Minute Therapy: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. San Francisco, CA: Gallatin House. Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the author of Three Minute Therapy and Stage Fright.Three Minute Therapy

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