“Do away with the opinion I am harmed, and the harm is cast away too. Do away with being harmed, and harm disappears.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 4.7
A word can have multiple meanings. One usage can be harsh and another might be completely innocent. The same word can mean a cruel slur or a pile of sticks. In the same way, something said sarcastically differs drastically from something that was pointed and mean.
The interpretation of a remark or a word has an immense amount of power. It’s the difference between a laugh and hurt feelings. The difference between a fight breaking out and two people connecting.
This is why it is so important to control the biases and lenses we bring to our interactions. When you hear or see something, which interpretation do you jump to? What is your default interpretation of someone else’s intentions?
If being upset or hurt is something you’d like to experience less often, then make sure your interpretations of others’ words make that possible. Choose the right inference from someone’s actions or from external events, and it’s a lot more likely that you’ll have the right response.”
Excerpt From: Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman. “The Daily Stoic.”