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We internalize the actions of others. We often think that the choices other people make, or the way that they regard us, are always about something we have done wrong. The reality is, most of the time, the behavior of others has nothing to do with us.

We aren’t talking about situations where our behavior caused a certain reaction from someone, or a choice that we made negatively impacts someone we care about. This article is focused more on the daily actions of those around us that we easily internalize and create offense where it should not exist. You know, those times where we feel slighted by someone or something that they did, and we later find out that it had nothing at all to do with us.

Everyone is carrying some form of life baggage. From childhood experiences to unfortunate life circumstances, people are hurting and it is often revealed in unintentional ways. But we tend to forget this. Instead we are mistakenly offended by everything people do that we dislike, and to top it off, we assume that their actions are directed toward us.

Maybe we do not receive the phone call we expected, someone isn’t spending enough time with us, words are exchanged that are hurtful, lies and deceit occur, or people aren’t keeping their word on important matters. These are just examples, as we could all describe more. The point is that these are the types of things that quickly offend us, and the “offender” is often acting based on their own “stuff,” and not even connecting their particular action to our offense. They may very well be misbehaving because of some things they have going on or need to work through in their own lives. We are the bystanders.

Let’s be real here. There are so many things in life that we can decide to get upset about. No shortage of disappoints exist. However, picking our battles is required to live a healthy life. We cannot walk around expecting to find offense, or we always will. We also cannot assume that everything in the world revolves around us. People make decisions based on many variables, and sometimes this includes us, but most of the time, it’s about them and their life circumstances.

Are you easily offended? 

Have people told you that you frequently overreact

Do you lean toward the negative when interacting with others? 

Have you been told that, it’s not about you

If you are the type of person that is easily offended, then it is time to work on that. Being easily offended means that you are expecting that the behavior of others and/or their actions will set you off. You wake up most days irritated and preparing for insults. It is a very negative place to be, and while you might think that this is just who you are, the people around you walk on eggshells because they don’t want to deal with your pessimistic attitude.

Frequently overreacting is similar to being easily offended, the difference is the timing of occurrences. While you may be easily offended, you consistently and predictably overreact. Everything sets you off, and people know it. Well-intentioned family and friends are unsure how to make you smile because you are always magnifying the small stuff.

Having a negative outlook is a dangerous place to dwell. Any negative outlook, belief, or perspective is likely to have the negative outcome we are predicting. When you are the glass is always half empty lens in your conversations, it drains others. Seeing the negative in life is the easy thing to do, and most people can identify the negative aspect of any situation. Being positive is much more challenging, but worth the work.

Being told that it’s not always about you, is hard to hear. But when we are easily offended and viewing life in pessimistic ways, we are behaving like the world revolves around us. We are taking everything that people do and making their actions and lives all about us. This is an impossible way to live. This is also an impossible way to experience peace and happiness.

So, how can you break the cycle of offense?

  • Start focusing more on YOU. Stop worrying so much about everyone else and their current or anticipated behavior. It will be much more challenging to be offended if you aren’t consumed with someone else’s life and choices.
  • IDENTIFY and ACCEPT that it’s not all about you. It is time to get real with yourself. Change will only happen when you accept that it is necessary. Living your life in a selfish way does not help you be the best you can be, and it tears down your relationships.
  • PAUSE before reacting to ANYTHING that anyone says or does. When you feel offense creeping up, just pause. Do not react to anything or offer an explanation for anything until you are free from the anxious feeling. Taking time to pause will help you to assess if you have cause to be truly offended or are just overreacting.

Work on having more peace in your life and thinking in more positive ways by releasing this negative energy. It is true, it is not always all about us. When we take our eyes off of ourselves, we can feel a freedom and release that is unexplainable. We are easier to be around, lighter in energy and presence, and we are open to new experiences.

Living a life of offense will never lead to greatness.