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It’s easy to be offended when we’re sure that we’re right. People seem selfish and insensitive, doing and saying things as if to intentionally hurt us. If we’ve heard or experienced offensive things that are still stewing within, this article is for us. Are we ready for a new perspective that allows for peace? We’ll explore FIVE healthy new ways to see “offenses” so they may not bother us at all.

Hurt people hurt people

The old saying rings true—people who are feeling hurt, often lash out to hurt others with their words and actions. When this happens, we may easily become offended by the person and whatever attack or remark they make. Then, we react. First, with our choice to be offended. Second, with retaliation or retreat. Although it may feel good at the time to either lash out or physically distance ourselves from the people we’ve been offended by, we may continue to feel offended and carry the emotional burden of the offense for much longer—even a lifetime. However, there are other options that allow us to feel better.

ALTERNATIVE #1: Realize it’s not all about us

Being offended is a deeply self-centered choice. It’s all about how WE feel, what we want (or don’t), what we hate (or like). It’s about not getting or feeling the way we want to. If we get off our high horse thought that somebody else should change so that WE feel and are treated better—and instead, do something good for ourselves, chances are we’ll feel a lot better, sooner. For example, if we’re driving on the freeway behind a line of people-going-five-miles-an-hour-in-a-traffic-jam, we could take the next exit and hit the frozen yogurt place or go to a park and exercise for 20 minutes and then take the back roads.

ALTERNATIVE #2: Empathize

Sometimes our perspective doesn’t allow us to see, hear or understand what people truly mean, or why they do what they do. Learning to become empathetic—or understanding where the “offender” is coming from can help. Maybe they’re acting “off” due to a health issue or loss of a loved one. For more free information on empathy, click here

Here’s an example of how empathy can eliminate offense:

A man invites his girlfriend to get together several times, and she declines or is late. He takes offense and assumes that she is being disrespectful and does not want to spend time with him. On the contrary, this woman is deeply shy and sensitive, having experienced a lifetime of disappointments with men. Though she wants to spend time with him, she also battles the fear that each encounter will be disappointing. He doesn’t inquire or take time to learn this about her or empathize with her situation. Instead he tells her a lesson that he was taught early in his life—that, “When people want something, they aren’t late and they show up.” If he had learned more about her and empathized with her circumstances, he would have been better equipped to lead and not take offense.

ALTERNATIVE #3: Reinterpret

The offensive person does not think like you. Accept that. To them, their behavior may not be offensive or they may simply be unaware or not care about how they come across. With all that said, is it still worth being offended by this person or remark? Or, would we be better off reinterpreting the “offense” as “just them?”

ALTERNATIVE #4: Accept Life as it Is

Life is life. The only people affected by our offenses are us and those closest to us. When we become offended, our stress levels increase, blood pressure and cortisol levels rise, we become chemically imbalanced and we’re charged and ready to behave in ways we may later regret. Friends and family then get covered in the deluge of our disgust and drama, for as long as we choose to hang on to it. Could we accept that “it is what it is” instead?

ALTERNATIVE #5: Scream and/or Laugh it off

Instead of taking out the offense on ourselves and others, could we turn up some loud music and scream out our anger—in our cars or pillows? Or, could we simply imagine the offender in a diaper and jester’s hat and laugh like a lunatic? Or try screaming and laughing at the same time—that’s pretty funny!

Will You?

Will you resist becoming offended, and choose an alternative instead? Share your thoughts and feelings so we may grow in strength and willpower together …

Always with love,

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