"What’s Wrong With This Person?"

When you inevitably get frustrated with someone today, remember this line from Anthony de Mello: "The question to ask is not, 'What's wrong with this person?' but 'What does this irritation tell me about myself?'"

This question—this pause and then reversal—is an essential element of Stoicism. It goes back to Epictetus who said that we are complicit in the offense anytime someone hurts our feelings or makes us upset. We are choosing to react to something. We have to remember that. We have to remember that we have the power, not them, that it’s not the things they do that upset or offend us but our judgment about those things.

The irritant is never the other person. It’s always something within you.


Um.... no.

If the other person is irritating, and that's it, sure, that's within you . However, there are often something wrong with that person. Look at Cheetoh. There is something seriously wrong with the man, including ignorance, stupidity, narcissism, and greed. No, wait, those might be the full list of features. If I'm irritated then the irritation is my issue, sure. But the wrong is definitively the man, not something within me.