Ever look in the mirror when you felt offended? It’s actually the place you should start before spouting off expletives or blaming someone else for how you feel. You see when we get offended, it’s often an invitation for self-examination. Getting to the root of why you find something or someone offensive is key to learning about yourself. When you jump to blame, you miss the opportunity.
My friend Tori Hartman always reminds people that “how you relate to the issue is the issue.” What she means by that is that when something irritates you or you go into upset, there is something within that is driving it. It may be a fear, a past failure, family issue, insecurity, or something else. Regardless, your reaction is signaling there is an unresolved part of your life. Feeling offended is like looking into a mirror. It’s a reflection of a deeper self that is struggling to come into the light. Turning away is like running away. Most of us are familiar with the adage that a life lesson we choose to ignore or run from will only surface again later, often in stronger and more painful ways. Being offended then is a very clear signal that a life lesson is trying to present itself.
For example, you see someone who appears to be overweight and has difficulty getting into the booth at a restaurant. Are you offended by their appearance? Do you judge them to be incapable of controlling their appetite? Chances are if you feel this way or harbor some negative reaction, it is your own fear of losing control or discipline over your own health. You may judge that person as weak, gross, or a slob. Yet what does this say about yourself? What if you simply saw that soul enjoying an outing with friends? What if the person has a condition that makes it incredibly difficult to manage their weight no matter how much or little they consume? Since you likely have no personal insight into that individual, what makes it right to judge them? If this has been you, most likely your reaction is inviting you to look at your own sense of body image and self-love. You may have lost a loved one to diabetes or recall a time when you were overweight and felt self-conscious. Whatever the reason, your reaction is encouragement to go deeper, find the unresolved part of your life, and deal with it.
It seems our society has become perpetually offended. You get cut-off by an aggressive driver and you react immediately by calling them an asshole and signaling they have now become #1 in your life. What if that person isn’t simply being inconsiderate but instead is rushing to the aid of a loved one or perhaps has had a really bad day and is anxious to get home and unplug? What might your reaction say about what is happening in your own life right now? On an even broader scale, how we react to world events and politics seems to also be an area filled with perpetually offended people. I’m reminded of the wisdom of the Buddhist practice of non-attachment. When we can simply observe something for what it is without attaching any meaning to it, we open ourselves to an entire banquet of learning and acceptance. At its root, it is a call to love.
So next time you find yourself feeling offended, I invite you to pause before reacting. Challenge yourself to recognize and acknowledge that you don’t have the complete picture. Resist the urge to judge and simply observe in a non-attached way. Then ask yourself what the situation has to teach you. Is there a lesson of love to be uncovered in that moment. Maybe (just maybe) you’ll resist the urge to react and in the end, go deeper to discover something about yourself. This is the path of personal growth and higher calling. Instead of calling someone an asshole then, look at the asshole dimension of your own life and do something positive about it.
I believe in the transformative power of human connection to elevate joy, restore balance, and support inner healing as you seek your highest purpose. My purpose in life is to be a guide, to share the wisdom of the Universe I’ve been gifted with, and to see others succeed. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see others step into their purpose in a vibrant and highly energetic way.
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