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When you’re “offended,” you’re angry, and we know that anger kills. People who intentionally aim to offend, are angry people, and they’re trying to pass it on. They don’t like themselves, so it makes them feel good to not like you. Don’t take hook. Make note they’re like that, and limit your contact with them, of course; but when you can’t, manage emotions around it. Your emotional reaction can do you harm. The words themselves cannot.
You can also monitor your self-talk, lest it go on forever. If you find yourself thinking, “He insulted me,” or “He said that to get back at me,” or “He said that to make me angry,” try telling yourself something different, like, “That doesn’t include me, of course,” or “I’m going to let that comment just move on through me and take emotions along with it because I want peace and good health.” Or simply recite alphabet. War stories have same physiological effect on you as initial incident, sometimes months and years later. Why would you want to do that to yourself.
You don’t have a constitutional right not to be offended, but you always have option of turning down volume, pushing “off” or “delete” button, walking away, staying away, and not letting anger fester within you and cause you real harm.
You can also learn something from it, about yourself. Our emotions give us information. Ask yourself if you’re angry because people shouldn’t talk or be that way. If you can’t be happy until world and people in it are perfect, you’re going to have a long wait, a miserable life, and possibly a coronary.
Check in on what issues were triggered. If they said all Xs are X, and you are that way, and it’s not a nice way to be, you may want to look at that. As Russell Lynes puts it, “The only gracious way to accept an insult is to ignore it; if you can’t ignore it, top it; if you can’t top it, laugh at it; if you can’t laugh at it, it’s probably deserved.” Laughter is always a good physiological antidote to anger; you can’t be relaxed and tense at same time.
If they attacked an institution with which you’re affiliated, are you sure you want to be a martyr for a cause that big? It’s unlikely you’ll change their opinion, and very likely you’ll raise your blood pressure, accelerate your heart rate, bring on a migraine, or prime yourself for a stroke. Over time, of course, but a habit’s a habit. Pick battles large enough to matter, but small enough to win.
If you’re kind who feels every emotion must be acted upon, take that energy and put it to good use. There are bigger things to work on than one person’s attitude. Teach others a better way. Be a Big Sister, teach Sunday school, sponsor a foreign exchange student, give seminars, write an article for “rant and rave” section of www.zinos.com , or send a letter to an editor. But do it from a loving place, otherwise negative energy is still there.
The bottom line is protecting yourself, not from someone else’s words, but from your own reactions. The bottom line is, no one can offend you unless you agree to it. Don’t agree to it. Move on!
©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional development. EQ coach training an certification program. Mailto:email@example.com for information on this fast, affordable, comprehensive, no-residency program.