No matter who you are, we all get offended by things. Offended by a comment or action or information that doesn’t sit well with us. This then leads to anger, sadness, personal criticism, or changes in behaviour.
But why do we get offended in the first place? Here’s why I think we get offended…
If you’re like me, you can be easily offended because you’re a sensitive person by nature. Sadly, sensitive people are more prone to hurt feelings from things like jokes, criticism, or comments. This is because we feel very deeply. We feel happiness very deeply, but we also feel sadness very deeply, as well as criticism or offensive comments/actions.
*If you are a highly sensitive person, don’t think that there’s something wrong with you. I used to wish that I could care less so that I’d never get upset and I’d always be happy. Trust me, it’s a pointless pursuit! Instead, you should see this as a superpower.
Yes, it means you can hurt more deeply or get offended without need, but it also means you’re empathetic, sympathetic, emotionally intelligent and great with people on a personal level. I also think my being highly sensitive helps with my writing and my goals to help change the world. So, I’ll take that!*
Fear It’s True
If we didn’t already fear that what a person said was true, it wouldn’t get to us so much. If someone called me a purple horse, I wouldn’t take offence because I know it’s not true! But if you’re called lazy by someone, and you worry (even subconsciously) that it’s true, it will make you take offence to what was said.
We all have underlying beliefs about ourselves or our lives. Some of these we are aware of, some we are not. These beliefs can sit inside of you and poison you without you realising. Then, when someone comes along and says something, you get offended because it awakens that deep-rooted belief that you have inside.
My triggers are being called boring, lazy, stupid, fat, a loser, or being told that what I’ve done is wrong. And that’s because I already believe (even to a small degree) that these things may be true about myself.
So, next time you’re offended, ask yourself why. Ask yourself if there is any truth in it and if there’s not, there’s no need to give any energy to it.
Again, if you’re like me, you may have low self-esteem. If that’s the case, you are more susceptible to feeling offended by things. This very much ties into the point above. If you have low self-esteem, you’re likely to believe negative things about yourself.
“I’m a failure.”
“I’m a loser”
“No one wants to be my friend.”
“I have no good ideas.”
“I’m not enough.”
These damaging thoughts and beliefs are making you prone to hurt feelings from external influences. A self-confident person will not be offended by external factors as much, because they are confident in who they are, what they do, and how they think. So, no one can come along to shake that up.
Sometimes things can sound like a personal attack. And when it feels that way, truth or not, we get offended and we get defensive.
Personal attacks can sound like, “You never help out around the house, you’re lazy!”
Then whether this is true or not, we can offended, we get angry or upset, and then we get defensive.
“I always help you! You never value me. Why don’t you tell so-and-so off for not helping? I hate you!”
I think these situations can be avoided in two ways. One, we stop and breathe and ask “is this true?” before answering. Two, we practice love and understanding in the place of defence or attack.
On the other side of this, you should also be mindful of the language you use if you want to avoid sounding like you are attacking someone.
We could say, “I feel like I would be happier if I got more help around the house.”
This then takes the “You“s away, which sound like an attack, and uses “I” instead which no one can throw back at you because they can’t tell you how you should feel. Get it?
Careful of accidentally (or intentionally!) personally attacking people, and be careful of what you take as a personal attack. With a change in language and perspective, the situation can be avoided.
Our Values Questioned
If something goes against your values or beliefs (about the world, yourself, or other) then you are likely to take offensive or at least be bothered by it.
This is why people are offended by swearing or cursing, for example. If they themselves think that people shouldn’t swear in public, or shouldn’t swear when young, or that “proper ladies don’t swear“, then they will be offended.
If someone uses a racial slur or assumes an outdated norm or stereotype, then many people take offence because we value inclusivity, kindness, political correctness, and forward-thinking.
This is why older generations are sick of the Millennial Generation (and younger) who get “so easily offended”. It’s because we are a generation in a world that is moving forwards towards change for all, which goes against the old values and systems of the past.
When someone says or does something that goes against our norm, our values, our beliefs, and our way of life, it can then cause us to feel off. Whether that includes feeling offended, being downright angry, or simply feeling ill at ease.
So, this is why we get offended. If you are someone who’s told you’re “too easily offended” then one of these may be the reason why. If others get offended by what you say or do, these could also shed some light on that, too. Either way, there’s a logical reason for it, and a way to avoid it with personal analysis.
Plus, perspective goes a long, long way! Thinking about something differently, and taking some time in certain situations, can lead to very different results.
Being offended by something is an emotional reaction, which means that it’s coming from inside. If you know yourself, truly know yourself, then you should know why something offends you.
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