When Someone Speaks Ill of You Courtesy of Epictetus

“If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you but answer, "He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone.” - Epictetus


I’ve been musing on this quote from Epictetus a lot lately. Partly because it speaks to my personal life. But also how deep it goes - aside from someone talking about you behind your back.


Now let’s back up. How we approach something like this is within us. It seems stoic that were we to hear about someone talking behind our back, we wouldn’t respond. The issue wouldn’t even be a part of our psyche. Yet, what Epictetus does here is spin the idea on its head.


Or, at least, allows us to approach it in an easier way than writing it off.


Approaching with the statement, “He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would not have mentioned these alone” brings us to the level of the original speaker. I love this because, in all honesty, it’s the ultimate “fuck you” to someone.


It’s bold enough to not say ‘fuck you’ outright, and snide enough to leave the conversation as the victor. Now, that isn’t the goal. I love Epictetus’s version of how to A) approach a situation like that and B) respond in general.

Stoicism is now a big part of my life. Reading and re-reading their teachings is a form of therapy. The writings are so timeless and so applicable to today’s everyday life, they’ll be of plenty of use to me for years to come.