In sixth grade, I came home on Valentine’s Day with only a handful of cards. This was long before the day where class lists were circulated to ensure everyone brought a valentine for the entire class. There was one boy in particular, who had been belittling and teasing me for weeks, that I held as the responsible party. Depleted, I felt as if he had turned my whole class against me — I felt alone, hurt, and eventually offended about the way I was treated.
Looking back, I think I was affected so dramatically because I was so incredibly shy and insecure. My self-esteem was no different than a typical awkward pre-teen; only I figured I was alone in how I felt.
My self-consciousness and inadequacy led me to analyze my interactions with other people. I took so much of what someone would say or do personally as if it were some kind of direct attack. My insecurities led to victimized angst and self-pity over perceived offenses.
Why Do We Get Offended?
Whether it’s self-inflicted or deliberate, we’ve all been offended to some degree or another. A car cuts us off, causing a near-fatal accident, a rude store clerk embarrasses you, a friend betrays a trust, or a relative mindlessly insults or criticizes you. I do not mean to minimize the pain of those who have been physically or mentally abused by another. While all of these burdens are horrific and unimaginable, they do not mean anyone is sentenced to a life of bitterness and revenge.
Those feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, and pain can poison our attitude, outlook, and hope. The idea of not taking offense, forgiving, and giving second chances destroys our victim mentality. As long as we remain the victim, we feel entitled to snap at the clumsy waiter, be impatient with the person in front of you, and criticize anyone trying to help.
The story track you’re replaying right now may have been the worst thing anyone can imagine, but think about this for a minute.
Do you allow what happened to control how you feel?
Maybe we are one to let those feelings simmer and stew poisoning us from the inside out. Or are we the type to obsess about the offense over and over like a moth circling a light? However we react, the choice is always…