Getting Offended vs Being Offended
Let’s get rid of the notion right now that healthy, mature, strong people do not get offended. Because they do. It’s unavoidable. No one is exempt. So, if it is normal, and if it is going to continue happening, why aren’t we talking about it more? It kind of seems important to understand that there is no failure in getting offended, AND there has got to be something more we can do with it rather than just be hurt.
We can’t escape it, so we need to know how to deal with it.
But listen carefully, this is really important. There is a distinct difference between getting offended and being offended - and that is where our power lies. We cannot avoid getting offended, but we have a powerful choice over accepting, allowing, settling into, and carrying offence .
Let's sort all this out together, today!
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Welcome back to our friends and a special welcome to anyone new. I’m glad you’re here. If you’re wondering if today is really for you or not, let’s get right to figuring that out. Let me say this… if you have NEVER been insulted, degraded, disrespected, humiliated, shamed, belittled, or demeaned in any way, today is not for you. The rest of us are going to talk about being offended.
And I know that someone may possibly be offended by the way I just introduced the topic. They don’t like humor or sarcasm. And I’m sorry. Yes, it was a bit sarcastic because I don’t think there is anyone on this earth that hasn’t been offended. We all have been, and it’s going to happen to us again.
So, let’s get rid of that notion right now that healthy, mature, strong people do not get offended. Because they do. It’s unavoidable. No one is exempt. And if it is this normal, and if it is going to continue happening, why aren’t we talking about it more? It kind of seems important to understand that there is no failure in getting offended, AND there has got to be something more we can do with it rather than just be hurt.
We can’t escape it, so we need to know how to deal with it.
Before we talk about how to deal with it, I think we need to differentiate between two terms first.
Listen carefully, this is really important. There is a distinct difference between getting offended and being offended.
And that is where our power lies. We cannot avoid getting offended, but we have a powerful choice over being offended.
Oh, I think that deserves repeating.
We cannot help getting offended. That’s going to happen. People are going to insult us, give us the finger in traffic, talk about us behind our backs, even to our faces, and some of what is said will not be complimentary.
But being, accepting, allowing, settling into offense, and carrying it - that’s a whole different thing, and something we do have control over.
This is the difference between something happening to you, and you becoming what happened to you.
Have you been offended? Yes. ARE you offended? Possibly, but you don’t have to be.
It’s the same level of thinking when we look at being victimized. Perhaps you have been. But living then as a victim is something entirely different, isn’t it?
It’s what we do with what has happened to us.
It can destroy us if we let it. Or we can use it to destroy chains that try to keep us imprisoned to what happened to us.
We have the choice. It’s living wounded, or healing from a wound and living.
So much of the pain that we have experienced in life has not been our fault. It wasn’t our doing. It wasn’t the result of our actions at all. But it was still painful. And the pain is valid. But we have choices to make as to what to do with our pain.
We lay down and accept it as too heavy to carry and we merely survive as a victim, until we no longer survive.
Or we take it and use it to our advantage. Still not saying thank you for it. We are not grateful for the experience, but we have decided it will not be in vain. And we heal, grow, learn, gain wisdom and perspective impossible to understand without that experience and we go out and teach and help and guide others with what we now know.
What tried to destroy us - we use as a tool to change the world.
And that, my friends, is the same kind of choice we get to make when we are wounded with offense.
As long as we decide not to become offended. But first... “getting” offended.
How is it that we get offended in the first place? Well, we all have our own set of ideas based on what we expect from others. But when the words or actions of others conflict with what we believe to be right in a moral and acceptable sense, then we experience negative emotions because of it. And we call those negative emotions, based on that experience, offense.
So, if anyone says or does anything that goes against what you thought was the right thing to say or do, especially when it involves you, but not necessarily, you can get offended.
You feel disappointed, hurt, let down, insulted, disrespected, angry, and several other possible negative emotions.
You’ve been offended.
Fair enough. Again, this doesn’t mean you are weak or immature or have any kind of flaw in your character. It means you are human, and still not living on that island you dream of, alone.
So, what do we do now?
Well, I’ll tell you an option that is a good idea, even if it isn’t utilized often. And it’s this… Ask yourself if there is any truth to what they may have said that offended you.
Because here’s the thing. If there is no truth to it, and it’s just nonsense, that’s really not a great reason to be upset. Nonsense is not a worthy weight to bear. It’s more of something to dismiss.
Sure, you can take your moment of feeling upset because someone had the audacity to say or act the way they did, but do you really want to join them in their nonsense by saying hey, let me have some of that to carry around. No, that itself would be nonsense.
But here’s the thing about asking if what offended you may carry any truth to it. The answer might be yes. Are you ready for that?
That would be a sign of strength and maturity. To be able to ask that question, and really see when the answer is yes, and then doing something with the yes.
Sometimes offense is not about being hurt. Sometimes it’s about being challenged in an idea that you’ve had, and you are now ready to outgrow. In this case, we use the offense to do just that. Grow, challenge our own perspective, and gain new wisdom.
Offense may never FEEL good. But it can be used for good. The challenge of growth may be part of a healing journey you are on. It might turn out to be the most valuable lesson you’ve ever learned. But for this to become usable and valuable, that decision must be made.
To get offended, but to learn and grow from it. Because the alternative is to “be” offended, “become” offended. And that is a place of being hurt, angry, insulted, bitter, guarded, and there is no room for growth in that arena. Just survival, for you, and anyone trying to have a relationship with you, like your family or friends or classmates or co-workers. It doesn’t make for great relationships.
But even if you are listening and thinking, “Oh man, that’s where I am. I’m in that corner licking my wounds and growling at everyone who comes near me”, well, that’s not you being “done for”. That’s just where you are while hearing all this for the first time. That corner isn’t a prison. You aren’t locked in there.
You can step out of it and decide that you were offended, but you don’t want and are not going to continue to BE offended.
And you know, those questions we talked about, to identify if there was any truth to what hurt you, or if it was just nonsense… they didn’t have an expiry date on them. You can still do an inventory of your offenses and ask yourself those questions. It’s not too late. You get to throw away the pain you’ve been carrying that isn’t worthy to bear. But you also still get to claim healing and growth and perspective and wisdom from anything that had truth to it. That’s yours. You can go back for it.
This is also what I got thinking about in pulling these thoughts together on offense. I don’t know if you listened to our last Soul Soothing Sunday episode, but we talked about a man named Jephthah. He was known as a might warrior of valor. And as we studied him, we realized that he wasn’t born a warrior. He was made into one, through challenge.
And if we are unable to avoid offense, and we have the ability to use it to challenge our truth and perspective and ideas – and then grow from that if we aren’t dismissing as nonsense……………….
Could it be possible then, that offense isn’t meant to destroy us, but to grow from - if we could learn to harness the emotions attached and bring them into alignment with the questions we ask about truth?
Here’s an example of what I mean in an odd illustration –
New Zealand is home to a number of flightless birds. Some of them don’t even grow proper wings anymore. There's just little nubs where they would have grown wings. And the reason they believe these birds do not grow wings and therefore don’t fly, is because there are no natural predators on their island.
They don’t have a reason to fly. So, they no longer grow wings.
It is literally a case of use it or lose it.
Let’s take a minute to imagine having had a life to this point, where no one ever challenged our thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. Because remember, that is where we are really offended, when someone challenges our ideas within these realms.
Who would you be, today, if you still carried the ideas you had about life, when you were a child? Or a teen? Even a young adult? I’d be in a mess of trouble. I’ll tell you that.
I wouldn’t have the relationships I have now, the job I have, the wisdom, perspective, or even hope for the future.
I’d be stuck back in some very immature ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. Because I can tell you, I have a history that would prove that I have needed to be challenged over and over again – for my own good.
But I will also admit that I have not always met these challenges with gratitude, understanding or immediate growth.
I’ve been hurt, insulted, wounded, disrespected, disgraced, and on some occasions, literally abused.
It’s not a fault that I didn’t meet those experiences with gratitude or thanksgiving. No one does when they are offended. But I can tell you that I am now stronger because of them. That’s still not giving thanks for what happened or the pain I felt. But it is being thankful for the choice I was able to eventually make, to get offended but not become offended.
I have been offended. But I am not offended.
Being and living offended is emotional bondage.
Emotionally ruled people are unstable moment to moment. And I am not saying emotional people with big hearts. I’m saying emotionally ruled people. Those who follow their emotions because their emotions dictate their life. Because everything that matters to their ability to function is out of their hands. It’s how everything makes them feel that determines how their day will go, their week, their life.
Those are easily offended people. Those are people who have been offended and then consequently, decided to become offended.
What do we do with that?
Well, this is where I would direct you back to our episode of forgiveness. If you haven’t had the chance to listen to that yet, this is the perfect opportunity to see the importance of the gift of forgiveness that we can give ourselves. If you have listened, but you feel that we’ve been describing your feelings today, of carrying the weight of offense, please listen again.
Because we talked about forgiveness being too much of a cost, not to do. That to stay offended and bitter and guarded and hurt would require you giving up a piece of yourself to allow for the space to carry all that pain. And that’s too expensive. That costs too much.
Forgiveness is taking the tether of pain that keeps you and your offender connected and unhooking the grapple and tossing it away.
It’s freedom from the offense that happened to you, and freedom from BEING offended.
It’s important to do for yourself, and it’s essential to having good and healthy relationships now and in the future.
Look at it this way:
Say you are hurt by your husband because your husband offended and hurt you. But the offense is having the impact that it is, because it reminds you of an offense by your father that you’re still carrying. Your father offended you, and you’re living offended with your husband. And now your son, he’s the spitting image of his father...
Can you see the impact of carrying old offenses into our current relationships, and how that directly impacts our futures as well? It’s vital to our current and future relationships to deal with and unhook the pain of past offenses... for healing, for growth, for health and for freedom.
Let’s unhook everything we can from past offense and pain. Let’s allow ourselves to be challenged by truth and learn to shake off nonsense.
Only then will we be able to get offended, without becoming offended.
You deserve freedom and beautiful, healthy, loving, supportive relationships. And so do your loved ones.
All the best to all of you, my friends. Until we meet back here again, goodbye for now and we’ll speak again soon.