It seems like it doesnt take much to offend someone these days. Are people just more sensitive? Well, this is something I have been thinking about. I don’t consider myself easily offended, but I am always careful not to offend anyone by the things I say in conversation and post on social media. Don’t get me wrong, certain things should offend us like injustices and inequalities. This post is more focused on the ordinary everyday things people do and say that hurt our feelings and make us angry. (THIS POST MAY OFFEND SOME PEOPLE!..its not my goal, but just saying!)
So often when people are offended, we think it’s because they are sensitive. I don’t think the question here is why are you so sensitive? but rather the real questions are these two:
- Why are you so scared? Naturally human beings are defensive. We want to protect ourselves from harm. It is a survival instinct. We become defensive when we are in a situation where we feel something bad is going to happen and we become scared. So we respond by being defensive in an effort to protect our values, our viewpoint and our heart. We become offended when people don’t agree with us or like the same things we do because it makes us feel vulnerable and even insecure. In turn we react in anger which looks different depending on your personality (sarcasm, passive aggressiveness, withdrawal/silent treatment, verbal abuse, physical violence) to defend ourselves.
- Why are you so selfish? I know… it sounds harsh, but if you dig deep you know its true! Ego and entitlement make it easy for us to be offended. Ego tells us that we are somebody. Entitlement tells us that we deserve to be treated like we are somebody. Here is a story of something that recently happened to me: I am a physical therapist and I was working on some exercises with a stroke patient. All of a sudden, he stopped his exercises and so I asked him if he was tired. He looked into my eyes, pointed his finger at me and said, “I’m tired of you! We are done!” For a second, I was wondering what did I say or do to upset him. Then it quickly hit me that he had suffered a brain injury which caused behavioral and emotional changes. I helped him to stand up to his walker and he just stood there, eyes closed. I could sense remorse. He didn’t apologize, but I knew he wished he hadn’t reacted in that manner to me. We walked into the lobby, as soon as his wife saw us she looked at me and said, “Did he snap at you today? Because he does that!” I couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy. He couldn’t control his emotions or responses to people. I bet that is hard on his marriage and relationships with his family and friends. In that moment, I realized something transformational in regards to being offended. Don’t focus on how a situation or a comment made you feel or look, but rather respond in grace assuming the other person is dealing with issues internally that have nothing to do with you. Stop personalizing it!
My husband always says, there is only one thing you can control –your response. You can’t control the other person or the situation. Human beings are flawed, including me and you. We will disappoint, hurt and offend people, but when we do we want to be shown grace and forgiveness when we are remorseful. So stop being scared and selfish.