Are you easily offended? Many people are, and it makes them miserable. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can control your thoughts. It isn’t easy, but it can be done. I write about that in my book, Thought: An Awesome Creative Force.
I encountered two unhappy people today while I was trying to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee in a local restaurant. They both dumped on me. That’s what unhappy people do; they spread their misery. “Misery loves company.” You’ve heard the saying.
One person was on the telephone a couple of tables over, giving someone on the other end of the line a large piece of his unhappy mind. Judging from the conversation I overheard, he was right to be upset about a situation that caused him considerable inconvenience.
He was highly offended, and he wasn’t shy about letting the other person know it. And he wasn’t diplomatic either. As I said, he was completely justified in being upset, but he chose the wrong way, and the wrong place, to react.
The man in the restaurant was angry, and he continues to be angry. I know because he came to my table and replayed the whole conversation. That’s the way people are when they’re offended; they typically spread their bad feeling around. That makes other people feel bad.
The second person was a family member who left a message on my cell phone. I returned her call when I got to the car. She wanted my advice about an incident that hurt her feelings and made her angry. Someone had been critical of one of her children. What mother wouldn’t leap to defend her child? That’s a natural reaction, but calling another person and repeating the incident two or three times just causes her to prolong the bad feelings and spreads them to another person as well.
My family member asked my advice about what she should do. I gave her my advice, which would have been the same as I would have given to the other person, if he had asked.
My advice: Forget the incident ever happened and forgive the person who offended you. Never mention it again to the person who offended or any other person either. The conversation is over and in the past and no amount of anguish can change that. Bury it. Forget it.
When you see that person again, don’t mention it. Act as if it never happened. Forgiving will give you peace. It will probably preserve a relationship.
Forgiving allows you to get over it and move on. Reliving the incident rekindles the fires that offended you, and you live the whole incident over again. The hurt and anger comes back as strong as it did the first time. That is self-destructive. You don’t hurt the other person, you just make yourself miserable all over again. Why do that to yourself?
You can decide not to be offended. If you slip up and become offended. Forgive the other person and forget the incident as quickly as possible. In a few days you likely will have forgotten all about it, and in six months it won’t be important at all.
A person who takes offense when no offense was intended only hurts themselves.