November 22, 202 Paula Gurnett, C.C.C.
Some people never seem to be offended by anything. Others seem so sensitive that they’re practically offended in every encounter. Being easily offended is often caused by an unrealistic need for perfection or a fragile ego. That’s good news! You have the power to change your responses.
Free yourself from feeling offended:
1. Assume positive intentions. Not everyone is a master wordsmith. Some people have a knack of saying things the wrong way. Until you’re certain, assume that the potential offender had the best of intentions, yet poor technique. Focus on the theme of the comment.
· Assumptions can cause all sorts of challenges. Avoid assuming the worst until you have facts to back up those beliefs. To avoid making assumptions, get curious! Ask questions with the intent to increase understanding.
2. Consider that they might be right. No one likes criticism, but we are human sometimes a reality check is needed. No one is perfect and no one can be expected to be perfect. Show yourself some grace as you consider if there is any truth in what you are hearing.
3. Ask yourself why you feel offended in the first place. What’s the cause? If you’re offended that your friend is 20 minutes late, what is the source of your frustration? Is it the inconvenience? The belief that your friend doesn’t respect your time? Your belief that responsible people are timely, and you don’t like irresponsible people?
· You may be source of your own irritation. The more convinced you are that things should be a certain way, the more often you’ll be dissatisfied.
4. Allow others to be themselves. No one is roaming the Earth trying to make you miserable. Everyone is living their life in their own way. At times, our lives intersect, and the opportunity for someone to be unhappy is present. Some people may be too shallow or too cheap for your tastes, but they also might not be impressed with you.
· Give everyone the space they need to operate in their own way. You’ll receive more acceptance if you give more acceptance.
5. Choose not to be offended. You can choose your response to any situation. You don’t have to become upset and stew when someone does or says something you don’t like. You can choose to ignore the situation and move on. You can choose to get curious and make effort to understand another's perspective better. You can choose to consider the action or comment from a different perspective.
6. Release. The longer you hold onto negative feelings, the longer you’re hurting yourself. Release what you cannot control and find the areas that you can influence that can help you navigate from feeling stuck or irritated and move you into a space of empowerment and self-determination.
7. Accept yourself. Often times, we’re offended because we don’t like the truth. No one wants to be told they are impatient, critical, stubborn, or impulsive. But some of us are those things. We just don’t like to be reminded of the truth! Accept your lack of perfection and you won’t be so easily offended - there is a degree of freedom that can come from releasing the pressure of perfectionism. You don't have to agree with everything you are hearing, but in order to avoid slipping into defensiveness, ask yourself "is there a piece of this that I can agree with or take responsibility in?".
8. Build your self-esteem. Studies show that those most easily offended often have low levels of self-esteem. When you feel better about yourself, you won’t be so easily bothered by the words and behaviour of others. As you prioritize your personal growth, you will also increase your resiliency allowing your to be more flexible (less rigid) as things are said or done.
9. Realize how you’re hurting yourself by being overly sensitive. If you’re easily offended, you’re not very happy in general. It simply isn’t possible. When you realize how much your sensitivity is costing you, it will be easier to change. How has being offended cost you in the past? Find the balance that works for you, allowing yourself to have a great satisfaction in life and relationships.
An African proverb states, “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” The ability to appreciate and accept yourself determines how easily you’re offended. When you can accept your imperfections and those of others, it’s very difficult to be offended. It’s important to give yourself and others the space to be themselves.