Spite: Cut Off Your Nose

On my way to an event precipitated by spite,I listened to the Freakamonics podcast called Spite Happens to get in the right mood.

It begins with the gruesome etymology of the phrase “cut off your nose to spite your face” which involves medieval nuns cutting off their noses and their upper lips to prevent invaders from raping them. It worked. The podcast goes on to support the notion that people have a propensity to do things for spite even if it hurts them. At that moment it matched my experience. It was hard to take the high road.

I habitually hold the door for the person behind me, at this event I felt a bit of joy when I let the door go. Even though I could not resist the opportunity to let the door go, I believe that what others do is their karma and how you react is yours. So I brought a bit of bad karma into my life, and got right back on the good karma wagon.

It is hard to feel neutral when someone wants you to suffer. Lashing back puts a downward spiral into motion. As you go down, down into the rabbit hole, you can feel anxious, powerless, frustrated and trapped. Spite takes control.

You can take charge. If at all possible, just don’t take the invitation to be involved. In my case that was not an option, but if it is an option for you, consider it. Any initial discomfort that you experience has got to be better then walking into the trap set by spite.

A highly effective response to spite or just about any conflict, is to react with curiosity. If you have the opportunity to ask questions that will clarify the position of the other person you can take the heat out of the situation. When it worksits magical.

The ultimate way to respond to spite is best stated by Don Miguel Ruiz. This is from his book The Four Agreements.”The second agreement – don’t take things personally – cautions us not to take anything said to heart. Most of the time, few things people say or do is about us personally; their thoughts are rooted in their individual perception. Others should not control our moods. By not taking things personally, we immunize ourselves to others’ efforts to manipulate our emotions or beliefs, and in turn, we experience less conflict.”

Spiteful behavior that is aimed at you, says nothing about you and volumes about the person who is being spiteful.

Spite isn’t all bad. The infamous Topeka Westboro Baptist Church is known for homophobia.The members of the church are notorious for appearing at the funerals of celebrities and soldiers to parade their placards and bring attention to their doctrine. Aaron Jackson, co-founder of Planting Peace, was inspired when he heard about 9 year old Josef Miles picketing the church with a sign saying God Hates No One. He bought a property across the street and painted it the colors of the gay pride flag-so there Westboro Church!

And Enzo Ferrari once said, “You know how to drive a tractor but you will never know how to drive a truck.” He said it to Ferruccio Lamborghini who then made a car of his own. Hey, Enzo, who knows how to drive what now?

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