Have you ever been offended by something someone said or did? According to the dictionary, to be offended means to feel or express hurt, indignation, or irritation because of a perceived wrong or insult. The key word in this definition may be “perceived.” The bible says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”
According to Psychology Today, there is an epidemic of offense spreading faster than Ebola. With world events and politics so easily shared on social media, people are quick to judge and are also intolerant of any view that might differ from their own. While it is possible to take offense to rude language, for example, people will often take offense to what was meant or implied, rather than what was actually said. This happens when we are triggered by what is said or done. We are triggered because we choose to identify with it, perhaps due to a past hurt that has not been healed. This often leads to reaction.
The spirit of offense is subjective. Which means ill feelings may be more about the offended than the offender. What incites a reaction in one person may not affect another, and although we may have many reasons to be offended, should we be? Perhaps the spirit of offense is optional, a choice.
If you find yourself in a situation that offends you, pause before reacting. Take a moment to do a self-check. Ask yourself if your feelings are justified and if your response is due to a past hurt. Reacting, in turn, in a way that is hurtful is not the answer. Seek first to understand the other’s position and perception, then you may choose to foster a heart to heart discussion to calm the waters.
Taking unnecessary offense to another, can destroy a relationship and lead to misunderstanding. Overcoming the spirt of offense is possible. We can make sure that our expectations of others are realistic, acknowledge and heal our wounded spirit, and never assume negative intent of another.
Even if the spirit of offense feels justified, you can always go another route. You can take the high road, and keep your peace.