We all have a need to feel like our knowledge is helpful, to feel respected, and needed. When situations change, it can leave us feeling hurt or offended because we may not be perceived as we would like to be. Most times, these feelings are our own and we project them onto situations where they may not exactly fit. But there are ways to help yourself detach and not get so offended when things seem to be off kilter to you.
How to work towards not being offended so easily
Here is a situation. Whether it be work or in your personal life, someone came to you for your help. You offered your help, and it made a difference, you were recognized and appreciated for that, and it felt good. Over time, they keep coming back to you for help in similar events or maybe work gave you more responsibility than you previously had, based on how well you handled a situation. It makes you feel valuable to those situations and that they trust your knowledge.
Situation at work, or in your personal life, may change. Maybe one of those people doubts the information you give or question something about the responsibility you were given. These things may cause hurt feelings or feel that you have lost some sense of trust with the people involved. Or maybe it comes down to that you feel that they think you are not as smart as you were once perceived. These feelings may feel like a personal attack towards you. The question you need to ask is should you feel that way or is that the nature of what the person is doing.
Do these situations make you explode into fits of anger? Maybe you have been told that you are making a big deal out of something that is small. Do you often take things the wrong way? Have people told you that they watch what or how they say things to you because of how you may react? Then maybe you are hypersensitive, and these feelings could be preventing you from being happy or putting stress on your relationships at work and personal. You aren’t without hope, there are ways to toughen up your skin and detach yourself a little bit from your situation.
7 Ways to stop taking things so personal
7. Learning to detach yourself
It is easy to become offended when you can’t differentiate between people’s thoughts and your inner sense of self, emotionally. When we equate our opinions too closely to our opinions and people disagree with them, you may find yourself feeling rejected personally. You may feel that you have been pushed away and it leaves you feeling crushed and hurt. How can you change that?
Opinions are tidbits of information that may or may not be based in fact or knowledge. Often, they are reactions to specific situations based on how we feel, at that time. The most important thing to realize is that opinions change as you learn more information and are exposed to more situations. They may have been right for that situation, but it doesn’t mean that it is a rule for every other one you encounter.
Your first step is to realize that your opinions are not who you are. There is more to yourself than that. Those opinions are not the whole of you are. Learning to detach yourself from your ideas or opinions will help you feel less offended and move towards leading a happier life.
6. Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes
This may sound like a cliché, but there is truth to its merit. If you start to feel offended by what is being said to you, simply stop and look at it from the other’s point of view. It may allow you to see if you somehow caused the situation and that the person did not come to you to simply offend you. Maybe they did not use the correct word choice when they came to you or maybe they had been given the wrong information. It is better to assume they are coming to you with a good heart until you have proof that there are different motives. Hear the idea and ignore the clumsiness of their words, do not hold on to them, instead focus on what may be the root of the situation.
Many times, our reactions come from jumping to conclusions of how things are being offered. We assume someone is doing or saying something from a place of ill intent. That is how they said something was intentionally used to create harm to us. Instead of giving that purchase in our feelings, let the judgment come once the conversation has finished. Once you have heard everything and listened, you may see that there was no offense intended and you both can work towards an amicable end.
5. Talk yourself down off the ledge
A large percentage of the time the reason we feel offended is because of the meaning we attach to what is being said or done. Things like, “see, I knew they thought I was stupid.” “This just proves that they really didn’t care about me!” Or maybe its more like, “are they setting me up to fail?”
Instead of going down that rabbit hole maybe stop and ask “Does this really matter? What am I getting bent out of shape about? Did they really mean it the way I am currently perceiving it? Are they trying to hurt me? What are they really trying to say?” Remember that the person has as much right to their opinions as you do. Better yet remember something from your childhood, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Okay, so that is a tad cliché, too, that does not mean that it is not correct.
The person coming to you is only expressing their opinion and that too may be rooted in misinformation. Reacting to them blindly and in anger may only exacerbate the situation and make it much worse. Be curious as to where their opinions are coming from and the whys. Seek to understand them instead of reacting to them. No matter what is being said to you, it can only cause offense to you if you allow it to have that kind of control.
4. Truth is better than being right
You may see that statement and question it. Isn’t being right also being true? What if I told you that it is almost impossible to be both right and to tell the truth? Being right cannot exist on its own. For you to be right, someone else must be wrong. Being right is more about making your opinion the only one that matters. You defend your opinion, your stance, against someone else’s opinion. The rub is that person also probably thinks they are right. This isn’t saying that there is no truth to yours or their side, but that it is more rooted in ego.
It is fair to say that many of us feel good when we know things that others do not or feel good that we were able to prove it first. This mentality may come from childhood when we are forced to raise our hands in school to answer questions. We all raise our hands, when we know the answer, in anticipation of being called on to show that we know the answer. When we are right, we are acknowledged for it, and it feels good. Then we crave it more. The problem is that this can also set in as a negative trait and we can switch to it being more important that we are heard as right instead of what the truth may be.
Like many things, truth is an abstract that cannot be encapsulated within one’s opinion. Thereby, if you are seeking truth, you cannot be the representation of that truth. Representation is tarnished by our ego and creates a sense of being right. Truth is more about a fact or reality, things that rarely, if ever, change. Opinions are shaped and reshaped by information and experiences we consume.
3. You are not the center of the universe
Many of the reasons we may feel attacked is because we only see our side in our lives. Because they come to us and we do not like what is being said we feel it is a personal attack towards us, directly. It is a massive burden to carry when you think that every word everyone speaks, every action or inaction, and all motives and intentions reflect how they perceive you. No one can carry that weight all the time.
Perhaps our offense to situations or how we react to them comes from feelings of how it affects you. Want the truth? You are not likely to be the center of everyone else’s life and you shouldn’t think that every situation they bring to you is wholly about you. The bad mood in which they approach you may have stemmed from someone or something else. Your father telling you that you are stupid or not showing you the love, you needed as a child isn’t about you, its about him and what he wasn’t capable of doing or giving. Letting their opinions weigh you down only keeps you from rising above them.
2. We all are imperfect, accept it
There is truth in that many of us expect others to act or speak a certain way. It is also true that we may hold them in comparison to how we act. Want to know another truth? If you constantly expect others to live up to some expectations you have, then you are setting yourself up to be offended a lot.
Remember two things…
First, people are human. Being human means, they make mistakes and have free will and as such will make mistakes, often. All humans have character flaws, even yourself. To quote a popular Disney movie song, “Let it be!” Brush the dirt off your shoulders and keep on keeping on.
Second, Murphy’s Law says anything that can go wrong will. You may wonder how that really applies here. It means if you think someone is being offensive, then you will see it as such. The rub here is that it all lies in your perception of events.
1. Accepting yourself
You are going to make mistakes and guess what, its perfectly okay to make them. We cannot grow or learn if we do not. You are on a path, but it does not mean that you cannot change it. You have full control in how you react to every situation that crosses it. Accept yourself for all you are, faults included. Validate who you are on the inside. Acknowledge that you have the power and potential to be more than our behaviors. Many times, those behaviors and reactions were our minds’ way of creating safety for us at a time when we felt most vulnerable and unsure of how to protect ourselves. The wonderous thing is that as we grow, we learn new experiences and what we are truly capable of. With that we can also learn that those behaviors and reactions no lover serve to protect us as much as hinder us.
Learning to accept us for who we are, and all our flaws takes away other’s ability to harm us. Your validation of self-worth does not come from other’s opinions about us. Our validation should come from within us, knowing our worth based on how we want others to treat us. To use a quote from something I read once, “People who are internally fragile – no matter how “tough” their exterior – break most easily at the wrong or misplaced word or deed.”
Adding it all together
Our paths are not set in stone, we have full control to change course at any time. Learning to accept where we are, see what is wrong in our actions, and recalibrate to a new heading is part of the journey. Accept life and things for as they are and not as they appear to be. Viewing life on what we have learned, instead of what we can learn, will always lead us to feeling the victims of a given situation and we will react accordingly. Don’t be tied into the past when there is so much more in front of you. Let go, be free, and happy!