The Whining Offense

I love Stephen Fry!  He has such a wonderful way of saying things and getting right to the point.

So many people in our society have taken to “being offended” by something, and expecting other people to stop doing whatever the offending action is.  But to do that is to completely disregard their own part in the equation: CHOOSING to be offended.

“I’m Offended” has become a banner cry for anyone trying to blame someone else for their lot in life, or their unhappiness.  When did we start accepting that, and more importantly . . . WHY did we start accepting it?

People get offended.  It’s a human emotion, and a fact of life.  But the crux of the matter is, they CHOOSE to get offended.  There are many different ways to react to things.  If someone calls you fat, or ugly, or stupid, you don’t have to get offended.  You can be hurt by what they say, or you can get angry (offended) . . . OR . . . you can realize that they’ve got some serious issues of their own, and they’re just trying to take it out on you, because you were handy.  I’m not saying that what they said or did is nice or right, but you don’t HAVE to get upset by it.

When I was very young, my mom taught me that I didn’t have to take what people said to heart.  My brother used to call me stupid, and kids at school used to call me ugly.  The ugly one I believed (I still don’t really know why), so I didn’t get too worked up about that, but it really bothered me to be called “stupid.”  My mom would say to me “Are you stupid?” and I would sullenly say “No,” to which she’d respond “Well then . . . ”

It still hurt to be called stupid, but after a while I realized that David (my brother) was just trying to provoke me.  Once I realized that, I learned that I didn’t have to react the way he wanted me to.  I stopped taking what he said as fact (or even as possibility of fact), and instead focused on how I felt about myself.  The cool byproduct of not getting upset when he said something with the intent of hurting me was that it really bothered him when I didn’t react in the way he’d hoped.

What bothers me more are the people who get offended by someone else’s opinion.  For instance, someone might overhear me say that I think a particular paint job on a car is ugly, and take offense.  Maybe it was their car, or maybe they disagreed with me and thought the paint job was cool.  When someone gets offended by me (or someone else) voicing an opinion, that’s ENTIRELY their own fault, and makes their “I’m offended” rant even sillier.

People have emotions, thoughts, opinions and judgements.  Not all of them will be complimentary, and some of the meaner ones may be flung at you as an easy target.  But you don’t have to let them stick.  Remember the old childhood phrase:

I’m rubber and you’re glue.  Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!

Yes, it sounds childish, but it’s also quite an accurate depiction of what happens.  If someone slings a slur at you with the intention of hurting/offending you, s/he winds up looking like an ass for saying/doing the act.  But if you choose to be “rubber,” the negative energy they tried to throw at you bounces back and sticks to them (the rule of karma, as it were).  Recite the childhood phrase back to them if it helps, or invent some random comeback that makes no sense and causes the other person to stop and think “huh?”

Now, I know it’s sometimes hard to think like that when your buttons have been pushed, but if you choose to let someone’s words/actions stick to you, then you have no right to blame them for how you feel.  That’s even more true if you decide to be offended over something that wasn’t even meant as a personal attack.  It’s been said in many different ways that no one can MAKE you feel anything.  YOU have the power over your feelings.

So I’d really like to see us start taking more responsibility for our own actions, and not try to put blame on anyone else.  Yes, they’re responsible for their own part in any altercation, but they’re NOT responsible for how you feel about what they say or do.  That’s responsibility belongs entirely on YOUR shoulders.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Terry Shames
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 09:25:40

    Alyx, I agree. I try to surround myself with people who are okay with other people’s opinions and who realize that they can either respond or not respond, it’s up to them.

    The other thing that drives me crazy is the current trend toward “outrage.” Please. Save it for really big things, like the men who recently shot a 14-year-old girl. That’s truly outrageous.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 09:51:54

      Yep, Terry, I do the same thing. I have friends whose opinions on politics & religion differ from mine, but we’re able to respect each other & the right to our opinions.

      I agree with you about the “outrage,” which seems just a different way of saying “offended.” There are stronger causes to spend energy on, so why waste it on piddly stuff?

      Thanks for stopping by today.

      Reply

  2. Dana Fredsti
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 10:03:47

    I agree, other than when people use the EST approach to NOT take responsibility for their own actions (i.e. acting like total selfish asshats because hey, it’s someone else’s problem if they are hurt or upset by said asshat’s behavior). Personal responsibility on both sides! I’m all about good manners and respectful interaction combined with the right to have our own opinions and not worry about people getting all butthurt over whether or not I like a TV show they do…

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 10:28:22

      LMAO! Oh, Dana…I love “asshat!” Yes, personal responsibility on both sides is key, which is where the karma comes into play (though that still doesn’t make the ass-ish behavior “ok”).

      Reply

  3. cminichino
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 10:17:56

    Well said, Alyx. What you present (love the rubber/glue saying) works on a personal level. Where it breaks down, I think, is in the political arena, where one person’s (or party’s) opinion will eventually will be made into law and forced on us all. That’s harder to shake off.

    Reply

    • Alyx Morgan
      Oct 12, 2012 @ 10:32:25

      You’re absolutely right, Camille. When people in a position of power force their opinions on the public via a law, then it stops being just an opinion…it becomes coercion, force-feeding, etc. And THAT bothers me.

      Reply

  4. Bette Golden Lamb
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 10:37:25

    I certainly agree with both Dana and Camille, Asshat is a great description — I know I’m going to steal that one. And politically — if we snooze, we lose.

    Reply

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