- “Your hair looks beautiful … did you color it yourself?”
- “Looks like you’ve picked up a little bit of weight, huh?”
- “Have you always been such an air-head?”
- Of course you got what you needed for that project … all you do is suck up to the boss!
All of those pot shots are verbal attacks meant to insult us, demean us, criticize us, or upset us. If we’re not careful we may react to these barbs by getting angry, feeling resentful, or saying something we’ll regret later. We may even take a few pot shots at someone else ourselves.
But here are the psycho-dynamics underlying pot shots: they are usually delivered by someone who is jealous of you, intimidated by you in some way, or angry at themselves.
Where Did the Term ‘Pot Shot’ Come From?
Originally, a ‘pot’ shot was literally a shot taken by a hunter at game merely for the purpose of an easy kill. The shot taken was generally an easy one, with the game being so close that it took the sportsmanship out of the hunt. They were shots that gave the hunter not only an unfair advantage, but an unethical, immoral, unprincipled advantage.
The original term ‘pot shot’ dates back to 1858 when the West was becoming populated with the westward expansion. More people meant more awareness about the way people were hunting. The phrase ‘pot shot’ was first used to describe a “verbal attack” in 1926.
Today the phrase ‘pot shot’ generally refers to any blow, physical or verbal, that is not easy to fend off or avoid. For example, in boxing, a low blow below the belt would be a pot shot – and in the office, a coworker’s snide remark in a meeting would be a pot shot.
A Stellar Example of Handling a Pot Shot
Last year, in one of our Sunday talks, we described a pot shot taken at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during one of his rallies. An angry detractor walked up to Dr. King and spit in his face. The Reverend hesitated for only a moment before he took out his kerchief and wiped the spittle off his face.
Then in a voice filled with compassion, he handed the soiled kerchief to the man and said, “I believe this belongs to you.”
It was a magical moment. It was a moment that said, I believe your anger, your hatred, your resentment, your fear, and your disrespect belong to you.
Dr. King set the standard for being on the receiving end of pot shots. He was non-defensive, even respectful, when he addressed the detractor. We invite you to respond as Dr. King did – non-defensively and respectfully.
Other Examples We’ve Experienced
As ordained Unity ministers and metaphysicians, we are often on the receiving end of pot shots. Here are a few examples of how we try to emulate Dr. King in terms of responding to pot shots with grace and respect:
- “You’re ordained by Unity? Unity is a cult isn’t it?” – “No, not at all. We are a Christian denomination, just like you are. Actually, a cult forces people to believe a certain way. They hold people hostage with imposed fear, tend to discriminate against any group seen as ‘different’ from their beliefs, and even threaten people who decide to leave. We believe people are free to seek the God of their understanding. We don’t tell people what they have to believe in or require people to sell all they have and move into a commune to serve at the pleasure of a particular individual. So, no, we are definitely not a cult.”
- “You’re those weirdos who don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, aren’t you?” – “No, actually we believe in both heaven and hell. However, we believe you don’t have to die to go to heaven – or hell – because they’re states of consciousness. They’re not places we go to, they’re states of awareness we grow into, which can be blissful or hellish depending on our state of mind. We experience them while we’re living. That’s our perspective, of course, and you’re entitled to yours.”
There are more, but we’ll just share one more, which gets at the heart of metaphysical teachings. If you haven’t heard of this “inconvenient truth” you may want to fasten your seatbelt:
- “Are you stupid enough to believe that Jesus is not the Only Begotten Son of God?” – “From the Unity perspective the Christ is the Only Begotten Son. We believe the divinity within us, our Higher Self — and what neuroscientists call the “Deeper Self”— is the Only Begotten Son. And 2,000 years ago Jesus became consciously one with the Only Begotten Son. He realized that the Christ Presence was expressing Itself in human form as him. And the Christ as Jesus told us we could do it too! That’s our perspective, of course, and you’re entitled to yours.”
Pot shots can only make us fair game if we allow them to rub us the wrong way. We must remind ourselves that pot shots are only attitudes tossed our way. Like the spittle on Dr. King’s handkerchief, pot shots don’t belong to us … it belongs to the person shooting them. People’s anger, their hatred, their false assumptions, their resentments, their fears, and their disrespect belong to them.
We want to share a couple of powerful tools to help you with your Pot Shot Management.
Tool #1: How do you know it’s a Pot Shot? We don’t ever want to close ourselves off from the opportunity to grow from good feedback, so how do we know when we are hearing legitimate information and when it’s a pot shot? Think of the word pot: POT. Pot shots typically are:
P = Personal. (Aimed at you, rather than focused on information or growth)
O = Obnoxious or Offensive (rather than informative and helpful)
T = Twisted to hit your emotional “buttons” (Of course, we know no one can push our “buttons” – we get to chose our emotions.)
Tool #2: Once you know it’s a Pot Shot, how do you handle it?
Once again, think of the word POT:
P = Pause. Take a deep breath – before you say or do anything! Just breath into the moment and connect with your heart center.
O = Open your mind to consider what is being said. Is there any truth there? Is there something I want to explore further? Is there an opportunity for a discussion? Can I behold the Christ in this person, in the midst of their pot shot?
T = Trust your heart center … your intuition. Release the emotional knee-jerk reaction and listen to your heart. Respond from that place of love. You might be guided to ask for more information: “Could you give me an example?” or “Tell me more about this.” You might be guided to share some detailed response (sometimes a pot shot can turn into an opportunity where someone really is searching for more, but they are afraid.); or — you might be guided to just smile, thank them for sharing, and walk away. This is actually a spiritual choice shared by Jesus as the Christ, in Matthew 10:14, when He tells his disciples: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” From a metaphysical perspective, this is literally shaking off the negativity or “pot shots” zinged at us by others.
Tool #3: Eliminate Personal Pot Shots
The most important – and dangerous – (this is why we left this till last) – are the pot shots we throw at ourselves! You know what we’re talking about!
Those “I’m not zingers” like, “I’m not worthy; I’m not deserving; I’m not good enough;
The “I’m Too … zingers”: I’m too ____ (old, young, poor, fat, stupid…); and
The “all-inclusive zingers”, like I never get…; this always happens to me…; no one ever helps me…”
Open your mind to the Truth of who you really are! And Trust your Heart Center! Listen for that still small voice from within, reminding you that you have everything you need to master the art of living, and you can handle any ‘pot shot’ anyone chooses to throw because you know the Truth … you have the Power of Spiritual Gifts and Principles working for you at the highest possible levels of Consciousness … You are worthy … you are Divine … you are God expressing. Just behold the Divine within each of those ‘pot shot’ throwers. And above all, be fair without being fair game … as you walk the spiritual path on practical feet!