When I was younger I would take offense at basically anything in the form of feedback or criticism. I would take offense at what I thought people might be thinking about me. I can’t imagine why I thought I had psychic ability. I do not.
Quite frankly, we really don’t know what another person is thinking. Thy have the right to their privacy in that regard. What people say and do are the challenges that we can address with wisdom and patience.
But I was not there at that time in my twenties. I would go into a spiral of worry based on my ideas about myself that I was projecting onto that person who made the comment, criticism etc. And lo and behold I would arrive at some thing in my mind that would cause me to be– offended.
Some days, I would go into a deep spiral of anxiety worrying about what I thought someone else might have thought about me based on what they did or did not say. And then, I would take offense at that! Just writing this now, much later in life, I realize that it was a great deal of wasted energy which I could have channeled into extending more love to people around me rather than walking around with the “offense” chip on my proverbial shoulder.
May I encourage you, not to loose hope, if this is an area of challenge for you. Here are some ways that have helped me to curtail my offense-taking habit. Because, quite frankly, it did become a habit. I got so used to taking offense I forgot, that I had the choice not to!
- Think of offense as a plate of rotten eggs. The idea came to me to think of offense as something rather undesirable that I was offering to myself! Certainly I would not take a plate of rotten eggs. The eggs were of no use. That imagery helped me a great deal.
- Think of offense as something that causes stress in my body. Certainly not good for my well-being to be over stressed.
- If I choose not to take offense, would my day be better or worse? I realized that taking offense was a mind-set. It was a choice, an emotionally uncomfortable choice based of what I believed might be someone else’s actions. I realized that most of the situations of “offense” did not seem to make a dent in the other person’s day at all. Meanwhile I had consumed my entire day with fuming unhappiness. At some point in my late forties (yes this takes time), I decided that enough was enough.
- Pursue peace. Seek to live a quite and peaceable life. Seek peace in relationships and cultivate self forgiveness. Forgiving yourself – sometimes is the hardest thing to do and, in my opinion, is the highest form of self respect.
- Be kind and gentle to yourself. You only have one you. Caring for our emotions is one way to honor our physical temple.
Be well. “Do not take to heart all the things that people say” – Ecclesiastes 7:21