No One Can “Make You” Upset

There is a wonderful quote from Epictetus that I think of every time I see someone get terribly offended or outraged about something. I try to think about it when I get upset about anything, myself.

“If someone succeeds in provoking you,” he said, “realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation.”

He meant that whatever the other person did is on them. Whatever your reaction is to their remark or action, that’s on you. He said that some 1,900 years ago. Before the internet was trafficking in “outrage porn” and cable news profited from creating news cycles based on scandal, faux-indignation and talking heads battling it out.

Don’t let them bait you or make you upset. Focus on your task at hand. Focus on managing your own behavior. Let them poke and provoke as much as they like. Don’t be complicit in the offense.