As a life lesson, I had a teacher in third grade who taught us how to take a compliment. She said to us don’t squirm, don’t look away. Look the person directly in the eye, smile, and say thank you. That’s a great life lesson, how to take a compliment. But I never had a teacher who taught me how to take an insult.
The Chovos Halevavos says I’ll teach you how to take an insult. When someone rips right into you, when someone peels into the essence of you, you’re supposed to turn your eyes heavenward and say the words thank You Hashem for revealing a little of my many flaws. I’m supposed to understand that this human being cannot cause me pain; this human being cannot cause me embarrassment. Those words were directed to me from Hashem. I’m supposed to look up to the source of those words and understand that Hashem is sending me a message.
I’m supposed to understand that if this pain, if this embarrassment wasn’t coming to me, no human being could bring it. And if it wasn’t this nudnik (pest) who delivered the message, if I was supposed to suffer that pain or that embarrassment, I would have tripped on the stairs on the way up, I would have dropped a plate of hot soup. If I was supposed to suffer that pain there are many, many ways that Hashem could bring that message. But fundamentally I’m supposed to understand that no human being can harm me, no human being can help me.