Do you CHOOSE to Be Offended?

I’ve never before called in to a radio station to share my point of view but today the topic was so compelling I just had to add my 2 cents.

The DJ said once when he was at a mandatory staff meeting his boss said, ‘You can only be offended if you choose to be offended.’

“I just can’t wrap my head around that,” the DJ said.   He invited callers to voice their opinions and I couldn’t wait.

Is “Being Offended” a Choice?
When something someone says “triggers you,” and you feel offended, it is not a choice at all but a reaction.

Your  reactions come from your belief systems, thinking, and programming.   The good news is that when you notice the feeling of being offended, this is the opportunity to then make a choice. The feeling of being offended is not the choice. The opportunity to change your thinking or your response is the choice.

In order for choice to take place, one must first have AWARENESS. Being aware of the feeling is the first piece. If you react again and again to the same thing, this means you are “unconscious” and in a state of reaction.  (Most of us live our lives unconsciously. We have not examined our beliefs or our feelings. We simply respond to the circumstances and people around us. )

Once you notice your feeling, THEN you can decide how to respond. Once you know how to respond, you can realign and reinvent a new way of “being” when the opportunity presents itself.

Do you confront immediately? Do you stay silent? Do you laugh along with the offender?

You may need to experiment with various options.  Most of us have certain defense mechanisms that also are reactions instead of conscious choices.

For example,  (I used this one on the radio show) let’s say you know that I’m not very good at directions…north, south, east and west.  Let’s say that I’m also very sensitive about it and you know this about me.  Suppose we are  in the midst of a group of friends and I am late and you can tell that I’m embarrassed.   You think it would be funny to say, “Hey what happened, did you get lost in traffic?” then  you make a few jokes about me and everyone laughs.   I feel offended and angry that you made a joke at my expense.

My “being offended” only comes because I am sensitive and I perceive that you are making fun of me.  In your mind, you may just be teasing and you don’t think any less of me because of my directional challenges.

Unless I am able to quit judging myself, so that I’m no longer offended by the joke…or unless I am willing to let you know that I don’t like what you are doing, you will continue to make these kinds of jokes and I will continue to suffer.

There is a tiny space between our perception of a circumstance and our response to it. The magic is in developing that sensitivity to become aware so that we do indeed have choices to either change our thinking or change our automatic responses.

So, it is in our awareness of being offended that we get the OPPORTUNITY to choose. The choice is never there until awareness comes.


8 Responses to Do you CHOOSE to Be Offended?

  1. Glenn says:

    I feel like what you are saying is that other people have complete control over how we feel, but we are in control of how we act in light of how we feel.

    I disagree. I cannot speak for you, but when someone says something that could potentially “trigger me,” I don’t get offended. It doesn’t “trigger me” because I choose not to let that bother me. I recognize that they have said something and it can be taken offensively, but not that I have to take it that way. If it is a comment about my character, then that is their opinion, not necessarily truth. If it is some rude joke about my directional issues, then that is just them being rude.
    But, my main point is that the choice to RESPOND instead of REACT has already been made. I have complete control over how I feel and I have not relinquished that control to someone else or whatever comments they may make. I can choose to respond to the comment, by notifying the commenter that it was rude and that I would rather he doesn’t make jokes about it anymore. Not offended, not angry.

    So, we choose whether to RESPOND or to REACT. Without conscious effort, however, human nature pushes us to react, which is usually by being offended.

    • stopyourdrama says:

      Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts. I want to make a slight distinction where we have different points of view. I believe for the most part we are in agreement. And…to be honest, I used to have the same views you expressed, however I have shifted this view to the belief that until a person is conscious there will be some reaction instead of choice. Yes the choice is there all along, but if you don’t know it is there, you may react.

      I do not believe that anyone else has control over how we feel, however I do believe it takes a high level of consciousness to be aware of every feeling all the time.

      Almost everyone, no matter how conscious they are will at some time in life feel something they don’t want to feel. Even if they had a choice, because they didn’t recognize it, it will not present itself as a choice.

      The way that we take control of how we feel is to evolve, such as you have done. Then, and only then are our choices conscious.

      Until someone has this type of awakening, they simply respond. In other words, “Responsibility is the RECOGNITION of Choice.”

      You have recognized the power of choice, not only in how you respond, but you have also evolved to how you feel. I believe this comes after an awakening, which obviously you have had.

      As we evolve we continue to learn more about ourselves and from this learning we will improve our choices in how we think and feel.

  2. Well said Marlene… I really like the way you explained this concept.
    thank you.
    Joyce Lee

  3. Gordon says:

    I found this site because I am in trouble. My wife and I were walking home, when a car started down the “sidewalk” (that’s another story – we are not in the US). Because the street was on my left that the car was going toward, I went to the right. My wife felt the car was going to stay to our right, so she moved left. We ran into each other. She quickly toward me to move over that I was going to walk in front of the car. I was offended by what I saw as her failure to see that I had a perspective too about what was going to happen. The result was a serious argument.
    My problem is that it is easy for me to feel like I am being run over (emotionally), and treated like I am dumb. So I am afraid I react rather than respond. Today I felt the feeling of offense, but rather than dropping it, I defended myself. I know wish I hadn’t! Any suggestions?

    • stopyourdrama says:

      Yes I do have some suggestions. Thank you for asking. Sounds like some old “stuff” is about to come up for you and the good news is that you are aware and willing to work through it. Here’s the deal: We feel what we feel. All of us have old wounds from childhood, “stories” that we make up about how things are. Now, with that said, I’m not a psychologist or a therapist, but I do offer a methodology to gain clarity and peace. So…we know what your situation is, and you are clear that you reacted and you wish you would not have. So now you have some choices. You can have an authentic conversation with your wife and you can just “own” the part that is yours. Example, “I wish I would have not reacted. I am realizing some old wounds are surfacing. Whether it is true or just my perception, I often feel like I’m being run over emotionally.”

      Then just let her speak.

      Try to breathe as she responds. Be prepared for the best or the worst.

      She may defend herself, say you are too sensitive or she may be open.
      Be prepared so that you can work through YOUR reaction.

      THEN my suggestion is, no matter what SHE says it is, you have to decide what you need and you have to start asking for it. Most of the time I find that when we are angry or defensive it is either because we have been holding back on asking for what we want, or we need to speak up, or we need to set a boundary. Is any of this true for you? Have you allowed her to run over you emotionally? Have you failed to ask for support? Only you know.

      If your wife actually is aggressive and insensitive, this issue is FORCING you to face the truth about it.
      I am assuming this is what might be uncomfortable for you. Our issues, as they come to the surface, takes us right out of denial and forces us to confront, set boundaries and ask for what we want.

      In a nutshell, what I want to encourage in you is a shift for you to believe that you can get what you want. Start telling yourself that you are creating what ever is happening. In other words, take on the full responsibility to put a stop to what is not working, while still maintaining your own values and civility. Avoid going into blame, or proving how “right
      you are. That is just drama. Just get clear about what you want from NOW on, and get CLEAR about what is no longer acceptable, and then make it your mission to get what you want without hurting the other person. When you mess up, apologize and own it and move on. Live by a standard that makes you happy about who you are becoming and you will not go wrong.

      I hope that helps. Please keep me updated.

  4. I don’t know whether it is a useful distinction to make whether people react or respond offended. Fact is that everybody has the right to feel offended, but everyone also has the right to offend others verbally. I want to stress verbally. No one should be stopped from expressing oneself solely on the basis that another party might feel offended. Of course, in everyday conversation it will usually proof to pay off to be friendly towards others, but I want to take it to a higher prospect.

    In my opinion everybody is responsible for how they interpret things other people say and not the other way around. I, as interlocutor, want to be able to say that there is no God for instance in whatever form. However, Salman Rushdie got a fatwa on his buttocks for doing the exact same thing. Pier Paolo Pausolini got killed because he made a movie which certain people saw as offensive, etcetera. I am sorry to use these extremeties, but I want to make sure that it is clear that it should be a fundamental freedom to be able to say whatever you want and that it is fully for the receiving party to interpret and their responsibility.

    • stopyourdrama says:

      Thanks for your thoughts. The point I’m trying to make that often we respond, not out of choice, but because of intrepretation.
      Many times choice does not play into it, because we are not aware enough to even recognize that there is another way to respond.

      You are right. Each person is responsible for their own intrepretation. At the same time, I believe we are also each responsible for the intentions we put out into the world. If we intend to offend, there will be a consequence and often not one that is desired.

      For example, although I know I have the “right” to say what ever I want, I have decided (for my own life) to examine my intentions and I do not wish to be a stumbling block to anyone, so there are times when I use wisdom and instead of offending or arguing I decide to be what Wayne Dyer would call “quietly effective.” So while I think we agree on most points, I also believe that together we all are co-creators and you get back what you put out there.
      I believe if most of us would just give up our need to be right about everything and we could all live and let live, it would be more peaceful.

      Although we all have the right to say anything we want, it is always wise to exercise that right. To participate in verbal abuse and expect the other person to turn the other cheek is not only unwise, it is would indicate to me that the person who exercised that right would also not understand human nature or the laws of cause and effect.

      Thank you for the dialogue and thought you put into it. 🙂

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