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Wit - the only answer for torment?

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

:Like many confused souls on here, I have mental torment. I'm also vulnerable particularly prior to the last 5 years. Since then wisdom has grown- caught up to my 58 years near where it should be.

A large part of my vulnerability has been lack of wit. Countless times when I've been abused or slandered I've swallowed it and fumed for a long time. This has resulted in the "steamer effect", my term to describe the pressure cooker within.I havent had the wit to quickly react ideally in a cordial, calm and measured manner to my opponent.

"Opponent". Yes we are talking duels here, a fact of life of fighting with other people, an act many find a part of normal life. Once, only once, I predicted a person, in this case my ex defacto partner, that she would approach me on a topic. If so I had an answer for her-

I'd had a hobby of building model aircraft for 7 years. She didnt like me spending time at the field. She one day sta down and lit up a *** and said "how much do you think you have spent on your hobby in the last 7 years".  I replied "$11,000". To which she replied "are you proud of that"?  I replied "far better than the $35,000 you have spent on chain smoking cigarettes". The topic was abandoned. And the topic never resurfaced. I call that premeditated WIT.

But premeditated wit does not exist IMO. It was planned to equalise an onslaught of criticism that I believed was not necessary.

So, I've seen people in my many workplaces use wit as quick as lightning. A response that leaves the aggressor in their wake or commences a debate. But I dont have that automatic response mechanism in my brain. What is the result of that absence? Torment!! And the long term effect- hibernation.

In my case, as stated many times now- hibernation means not locking myself away but some withdrawal from society. Fewer of all people in the end. Fewer meetings with people, fewer clubs to join, fewer facebook friends etc. Effectively, rather than growing wit, I've compensated with less people of whom could hurt me with contact in the first place.

The result is less torment. And a happier life.

Do any of you have ideas on finding wit?  For me I'd need to be on my toes constantly, viewing everyone as a potential enemy. I just want to respond to those abusers out there in an automatic way, to guard myself against humans that feed from nastiness.....

6 Replies 6

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

There have been countless times when I have been caught like a stunned mullet in situations like you describe white knight, and then have absolutely fumed afterwards that I didn't say something. I then have spent hours trying to come up with the perfect one liner to put that person in their place, but ultimately the fantasy would only make me even angrier that I hadn't done it at the time.

Even now, I find myself at flashpoints like these. It makes me sad when I read you saying you think about being on your toes constantly, viewing anyone as a potential enemy. In my lowest periods, this is how I viewed the world and I can see now that it had a huge effect on my anxiety, making me worse. I would snap at the slightest infringement, and it would usually be -t o my shame - taken out on those who least deserved it but I knew would take it from me.

How do I deal with this sort of thing now? Although it can be very very hard if I'm having a bad day, I try to fall back on my distancing techniques, reminding myself that it really doesn't matter, take a breath, and when I feel the urge to expend more of my energy in stewing or responding, realise that that is EXACTLY what the person wants me to do, and the biggest slapback I can give is to not give them the attention that they are craving.

Vegetarian Marshmallow
Community Member

Having adversarial interactions with people has not been a large focus in my life so far.  People who act mean-spirited towards others instantly become less impressive and important to me.

I suppose I'm pretty witty anyway, but it's not really a big deal if someone makes fun of me.  I don't mind.  Fun is.. fun!  If it's funny, I'll laugh.  If it's not, I'll probably laugh anyway at how bad it is.  I don't make witticisms to "one-up" people or put people down, only to amuse.

It might be different if the person had some kind of power over me?  Like they were my boss or landlord, and thus their attitude toward me mattered because they could deny me a raise or kick me out of my house.  But I don't really care about being insulted in itself.

Hi Odin and JessF,

I'm ultra sensitive so I never thought for one minute I had the choice of ...not giving them what they crave or not caring about being insulted. i.e. I never have thought I had a choice. 

Thankyou to both of you. My sensitivity has been so ground in I never realised there is another way. Sounds weird yes?

However laugh at them regardless? No way, could I change my personality that much. But I'll try.

Community Member

I would regard my self as quite slow witted, sometimes i am able to respond with some gems but more often than not i would come up with the perfect response about 5 minutes or later afterwards when it is no longer relevant. 

I used to be quite sensitive to the criticisms and opinions of others and sometimes i still am.  But i have now come to accept the realisation that not everyone is going to like me just as i don't like everyone for whatever reason.

I believe it is best to stay true to yourself and to be respectful of others and hopefully that respect will be returned.  I find that due to my lack of wit and inability provide an adequate on the spot response to difficult questions / situations what works best for me (if possible) is to limit communications with your adversary to emails or letters.  That way you have hard evidence and it also provides you the opportunity to provide a considered and substantiated response. 

I recently had a 'win' against a government department who were trying to bully me and discredit me but because i had all communications in writing i used this as evidence in lodging a formal complaint against them.  The outcome of that was in my favour as they were unable to substantiate their abhorrent decision making processes.

But still it would be nice to have 'wit'

All the Best:)


Community Member

Hi Tony,

This is a great discussion and somewhat helpful in that I now feel that not being responsive to your opponent's abuse is not such a bad thing. I do not always respond because I panic and get all choked up because of the attacks. But I am reminded that I am also being attacked by my boss and Managing Director of our Company, so I know on my part there must be some element of care in what I say so I allow things to slide and some time after in my head come up with what I think would have been the perfect comeback.

I know that he will repeat his hurtful words to me, so I am then encouraged that I can in fact respond to him appropriately, respectfully in the future.

But, I am now heartened knowing that staying silent is also a great approach because a bully always looks for confrontation. Why please him… mix it up to confuse him.

Your post has generated some good advise.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Kar,

Thankyou. I had a good example tld to me this xmas. A new in law has entered my niece's life. This new inlaw is a rather nasty person for whatever reason. My niece is a champion teenage tennis player.

My niece met up with this person at a family event and the comments started. My niece ignored her. Then the niece sarcastically said "and are you playing at the Australian tennis open this summer- I suppose not" To which my niece replied "I am actually, an exhibition match....Have you ever played at the Australian open"?

That wit, had two effects. It shut up the in law and it created a heap of discussion and praise from those listening. It was a checkmate comment.

Wit cannot protect us but it can cut short the stewing over and over of what we could say to prevent hurt from those that hurt.

Another thread that you'll find interesting is (use search)

What are their mental illnesses?

Cheers. Tony   WK