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Are You or Anyone You Know Too Easily Offended?
By Joyce Shafer
Being too easily offended is a form of self-victimization. Ouch! What are the symptoms of this mindset, and what can be done about this?
We don't always recognize an imbalance in our mindset for what it is. We experience the results of it, though, and that's where we tend to place our focus, which leads us to completely miss the cause. When we miss or ignore the cause of a mindset that doesn't serve us, effecting a change is darn near impossible. As Albert Einstein said, "No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."
Anyone of us has times when we feel offended, and perhaps rightfully so. But there are some who are caught in a loop where they seem to be offended more often than not, and in a way that seems illogical to others. If you are or someone you know is too easily offended, this stems from a core thought that has a core emotion attached to it, which causes a specific action to be taken. Every action ultimately comes forth from a desired response or a conditioned one. A core thought may be, "This should not be happening," and a core emotion might be, "I'm unsafe (whatever form that might take)." The usual, primary desires are to feel safe, valued, and fulfilled. Any of us, but especially anyone too easily offended, may believe if we feel these, caused or provided by others, we will feel happy.
People who are too easily offended are seldom happy and seldom considered happy by others. Some may feel they'll never be happy for reasons that seem justifiable to them. And those in their lives who attempt to provide what will help them feel happy find it an ongoing and oftentimes futile effort.
What are some symptoms of being too easily offended? Please keep in mind that what's listed here was somehow part of an individual's conditioning. They (or you) may not actually want to do what's listed, but they do practice them, because they're stuck in a mindset and will remain there until they decide to become unstuck. Also keep in mind that wherever we are on the scale of this, we can all benefit by paying attention to the cause-and-effect factors of these symptoms.
- People easily offended are consistent (or compulsive) complainers. Some complaining is natural to all of us, but they may take it to an extreme level. Those locked into extreme expressions of this may not realize they seldom engage in real conversations, that is, conversations about things not negative in nature or not focused on them and what they consider their problems.
- They blame how they feel on others. Whether they use the statement or not, their mindset is, "If this would happen (If you'd just do what I want you to do), then I'd be happy." Even when someone does what the person wants, they aren't really happy. They may feel self-satisfied—temporarily—when they get what they want, but that's quite different from happy.
- They don't tend to enjoy or appreciate what they do have because they focus on what they don't have or believe they have to have, or on what others "need" to do or aren't doing, in order to feel good about themselves or life. They don't realize how they victimize themselves, while believing it's others doing it to them.
- Easily triggered, they tend to assume and presume rather than seek facts or seek to understand others' motivations or the bigger picture. A practical or logical approach about issues that come up may not be used, because their first and foremost goal is to eliminate the pain they feel when triggered into feeling offended. They often believe lashing out is the quickest, most effective way to ease the pain. Possible short- and long-term consequences of this action are not considered.
- Their relationship with what-is is tenuous. It's likely the same for their relationship with Source. Their personal and/or spiritual growth is impacted because inner work is not foremost in their minds; getting others to adjust their behavior is.
- They are more often than not angry, bitter, and unforgiving.
- They may actually be generous and display generosity, but are often viewed as selfish—and often behave this way when triggered. This selfishness arises from insecurity. Insecurity stems from needing validation from others rather than relying on it from self and Source. When they don't get this validation, or feel they don't, they demand it in some form or another. Survival (according to their interpretation) rather than personal development seems to occupy their energy.
- This insecurity causes them to be negative most of the time, always expecting the worst. This makes them miserable, within themselves and to be around. (Law of Attraction is not something they're aware of, or if they are, isn't paid attention to.)
- All of this blocks the plan for their life, blocks their inner wisdom from expanding and working for them.
- They are trapped in anger and conflict, having not learned that they can pick their battles in life. They feel everything is a battle, not realizing the most significant battle goes on inside them.
- They see life and situations as always either/or, black or white, them against others, rather than that all are and everything in existence is interconnected, which may cause their thought process to be more mechanical than organic.
- They relate to reality quite differently than those not as easily offended.
- They tend to seldom be relaxed or calm, or to deliberately step mentally away from issues for a period of time each day. It isn't easy for them to have fun or enjoy ordinary moments, or even special ones in the way they might. They may even get angry if others around them are enjoying themselves or are calm. Rather than raise their vibration to join the merriment or serenity, they'll do or say something to bring others down to their vibration.
- Their happiness is incumbent on others.
Happiness is not an emotion, it's a state of being, as is content, secure, and so forth. If you believe that you won't be happy or feel secure until others do what you think they should, you've given your personal power away. If you do this, you'll continue to try to get from others what you should be giving to yourself.
This is one reason many of us lead quiet, or not-so-quiet, lives of frustration. We believe anything we want must come from outside of ourselves. If you accept that what you really want is to feel a certain way, then you have to accept that the only way you reach that feeling is by choosing to—and by looking out for your best interests and honoring the best interests of others.
What can be done about this? The first thing is to see if a health issue is involved. Someone in poor health or in pain, or who is exhausted, may experience some or all of the symptoms listed above. A chemical imbalance or mental illness can cause anomalous behaviors, as well. If either of these is the case, the first thing to do is address it through medical means to provide relief. But appreciation can still be a choice to assist you or the person to experience the self and life from a better perspective, rather than have a when/then mindset. Even one or several small segments of time given each day to appreciation will make a difference.
Here are several questions taken from my iPEC coach training manual that can help you, if you're easily offended, or someone else you know who is.
- Let your inner Wisdom speak: what is the reality of your situation/story/belief?
- What do you suppose is really going on here?
- Which part of you is talking now?
- What do you think is the inner thought here?
- Which part of what you are saying is a story and what is the truth?
If you are too easily offended or know someone who is, recognize that although feeling triggered may be justified by an event, another story is running simultaneously, one that will block rational, practical, or even spiritual approaches. A circle will be traveled, one that goes nowhere, but deepens the emotional pain. All of us have a story running underneath everything else that goes on in life. The story is comprised of core beliefs that influence us in every way. The good news is that beliefs change but Truths never do. It's a matter of discerning the difference between the two, as well as which one you listen to and follow—a belief or a Truth. It's a matter of identifying beliefs that don't serve you and replacing them with ones that do, as you move closer and closer to Truths that empower you in positive ways.
It is helpful to know what the cause of how we feel is, but getting stuck on that cause rather than asking "What can I do about this at my inner level that I will do?" isn't going to get us where we want to be. Question 5 above is a significant one. We tell ourselves stories all the time—and we believe them. That's the voice each one of us has in our head that chatters on. We can recognize that emotions follow thoughts, which creates a loop, which means we can be deliberate about guiding those inner conversations. We can engage new thinking that allows us to choose better thoughts that serve us. It's a good practice; one you'll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
Joyce Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She's author of "I Don't Want to be Your Guru" and other books/ebooks, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles and free downloads. See all that's offered by Joyce and on her site at State of Appreciation.