In a virtual world filled with conflicting opinions and down-right rude people, it can be pretty easy to become upset and offended. Trolls are gonna troll. But for you own happiness and general well being, it is important to practice the skill known as not being offended.
It’s vital to remember that no statement, even when directed at us, is about us. It’s all about the person who says it. They’re trying to make their beliefs heard or sort out their negative feelings. With this knowledge, it puts a whole new perspective on what’s not worth being offended over.
Why do people lash out and say hurtful things? While it can easily feel like criticisms and rudeness are direct attacks on you, it actually isn’t about you at all. When people are lashing out, it’s all about how that person is feeling and trying to process their emotions. We misunderstand where their anger is coming from, and take on the negativity as if it is our fault and our burden to bear. Rather than being offended, take a moment to understand that another person’s choices aren’t about you.
Now, there are people who have beliefs that are racist, sexist, ableist, and every other kind of “ist” out there. Of course those things are far more deep than just an opinion or an outlook, and these things are deeply offensive to the people they target. There is no doubt that societal influences of these things impact people in more ways than just words.
That is something undeniable; some ideas and outlooks are simply beneath contempt and don’t have a place in modern society. However, keeping your cool and understanding that there is something wrong in the upbringing or outlook in that person or in some sections of society doesn’t mean that you have to allow their words to rent space in your head.
Remember — free speech is good. Allowing people to run their mouths also allows the rest of us to transparently see who the good guys and bad guys are. Usually, trolls and bigots are broken somehow and the only way to maintain their self-esteem is to bully, blame, and make themselves feel superior to others. That would be worth of our pity if some many people didn’t get hurt in the process.
When someone says something that we could easily find offensive, it’s important to take a second to breathe before reacting. Sometimes people say or do things out of their own pain. Harshness and criticism are ways to channel negative emotions. Rather than being offended, try to understand the person’s pain. While you don’t have to try and fix the person or help them feel better, you can choose to not stir up more pain through engaging in an argument. Just take a moment to try to be understanding and compassionate. You might be the person who turns their life around. It happens. It truly does.
While having compassion for others pain and understanding that nothing is personal are important steps in not being offended, it is also important to not allow yourself to be hurt by what someone else believes or says (sometimes just to see if they can get under your skin). There is certainly a difference between being compassionate and allowing others to use you as their dartboard. Self-compassion is important for our own happiness, too. Luckily, abusive people tend to avoid people who they can’t seem to hurt and control. By practicing the skill of not being offended, bullies will begin to disappear from your life.
Knowledge is power. Knowing that the actions of others aren’t because of you or about you will help you practice the skill of not being offended. More than that, it’s helpful to be compassionate and understand that when people lash out, it is because of their own pain or insecurities.