We’ve all heard the saying “What other people think of you doesn’t matter.” And we’d all love to live our lives that way – absolutely not caring what others do or think or say. If only it wasn’t for all the a-holes out there who keep getting in the way. Every day people get completely bent out of shape about something someone said, did, wrote, broadcast on TV, posted on YouTube, or even something they think the other person may have thought, said, or done. Some of these instances even seem justified: some jerk cut you off in traffic. The lady in line next to you at the bank was openly rude. Your brother in law has the audacity to support your sports team’s rival! We are a people who love to get upset.
Here’s the thing: No one can offend you. Only you can allow yourself to get offended. Yes, I know that sounds really Zen and beautiful, but how do you actually practice this in the real world? Here’s how:
1.) Realize that every reaction you have is caused by the thoughts you are thinking. It’s all you. It’s your reality, it’s your reaction. That doesn’t make your reaction or the way you feel invalid, it just means that it actually has nothing to do with the other person. It’s your emotion; own it. You can read http://www.deliberatereceiving.com/purpose-of-emotions.html to learn more about this point.
2.) Understand that you are not actually upset by whatever it was the other person said or did. You’re not upset because the lady at the bank is rude to you, or the jerk stole your parking space or because other people can’t seem to control their children (who clearly aren’t raised the way they should be) in public. You’re using that excuse to justify a thought you’re having about yourself and your place in the world. And it’s that thought, your thought, that’s making you upset. For example, if someone is rude to you, it may make you feel powerless (you can’t do anything about it), devalued (she was rude to you because you’re not worth being nice to), or depressed (people in general are just nasty). All of those emotions will lead to anger (anger is the next step on the emotional scale), which is what being offended is all about: the feeling that you’ve somehow been diminished, causing you to get defensive and angry. You can read more about the emotional scale at http://www.deliberatereceiving.com/emotional-scale.html.
3.) Know that every person you come in contact with is a match to you at that very moment. They are simply mirroring something that’s going on inside of you. You actually elicited that very behavior from them in that moment. You don’t believe that people are rude because people have been rude to you. People have been rude to you because you believe that people are rude. It is your belief that is causing you to have the experience you’re having. You are literally creating events to be offended by.
4.) Remember that the more you push against something and the more you focus on it, the more of it you’ll get in your life. If you’re offended by inconsiderate drivers and you spend a lot of time bitching about them, you’re probably experiencing a lot of jerks in traffic each day. You’re not going to get rid of them (out of your reality) by continuing to complain about them. Change your focus, stop hating the bad drivers, and the bad drivers will disappear.
5.) Begin by evaluating events from your past that were offensive to you. Ask yourself why you find that behavior so offensive. Chances are, your answer will be something like “Because it’s just wrong”, “Because it’s disgusting”, or “It just is”. Most of the things that offend us don’t actually hurt anyone (aside from causing offense, which we’ve already established isn’t actually real.) By being offended, you gave the other person or offending party WAY too much power. Other people can’t intrude into your reality if you don’t let them. It’s your reality and you create it. The trick is to figure out how to do it consciously and not let all you unconscious vibrations create it for you. The idea is to stop reacting blindly and evaluate if the thought behind the reaction is serving you. Let’s say you’re offended by mothers who breastfeed in public (apparently 55% of all Americans are offended by this.) Why? Seriously. Most people who find this inappropriate have a bit of an issue with the naked human body. They find the whole thing disgusting, including their own. Because finding yourself inappropriate feels horrible (your inner being vehemently disagrees with you), every time they think these thoughts, they feel awful. They associate the breastfeeding mother with these horrible feelings and blame her, but it’s really the way they’re choosing to look at the issue and themselves that’s causing their reaction.
6.) Let it go. You have a choice here – you don’t have to be offended, you don’t have to have the thoughts that you do, and you don’t have to live your life in search of the next douchebag who will do something you can rail against. You can choose to look at the issue in a different way. You’ve probably never evaluated why certain things offend you. They just do. Perhaps you grew up that way, or you modeled your behavior after someone you respected. If you can’t come up with a really good reason why something actually has the power to hurt you, just let it go. Let other people be, and focus on creating a reality where you only see the things that make you feel good (hint: you do that by feeling good about your current reality first and that nirvana will arrive.)
7.) Once you’ve evaluated and cleared some of your past hurts, practice changing your perspective in the moment, before you have the chance to get offended. Someone cuts you off in traffic and you can feel yourself starting to get hot under the collar. But you catch yourself and change perspective. A favorite of mine is to imagine that the guy who cut me off is on his way to the hospital to visit his sick child. He’s in a panic and frantically trying to get there as fast as he can. If that were the case and I knew that, I’d easily forgive that driver his transgressions. Why not forgive him anyway? Being offended doesn’t make the situation better. It doesn’t make him NOT cut me off. All it does is put me in a foul mood. What’s the point of that?
Bottom line: By getting offended, you’re only hurting yourself. Just telling yourself, however, to stop feeling that way isn’t going to work, unless it’s an event that never, ever comes up. It’s better to dig down a little and figure out why you’re offended and then change your perspective. Once you clear a couple of items, it’ll get easier and easier. You’ll stop seeing the point of being offended in the first place. You’ll become a lot less willing to put up with feeling that way. What other people do or say truly won’t matter to you. And then, and this is the best part, those people who do the stuff that offends you, will rarely if ever show up in your world. But you have to stop pushing against them first. Then they’ll go away. The Law of Attraction baby! That’s how it works.
Do you have something that offends you that you need a different perspective on? Let me know in the comments or contact me, and I’ll answer you and may well base a future blog post on it.