Almost daily in the media you can find a news listing about someone saying something that offended another person or group of people. The offended party is waiting for an apology for this horrific event placed upon them by their perpetrator.
A few months ago in my 5th blog post, I wrote about being addicted to being offended, which I believe is really the heart of most any addiction. Once I am offended whether for a real or imagined offense, there is a payoff for not having to change or take responsibility. Therefore, everyone else around me needs to change. The problem with this is that it keeps me as the victim. This is a huge problem not only in society but with couples when both believe the other has hurt them. They believe their spouse needs to change, not them.
As a self-proclaimed expert and one recovering from my addiction to being offended, here are 15 ways to help you get past real or imagined personal or professional offenses that have been placed upon you.
Get out of your own perspective and begin to see things from the perspective of others. I remember reading a quote some time ago that read, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Give everyone you meet the benefit of the doubt. Everyone you meet has a story overcoming a struggle.
Stop replaying the event in your head. The other person has more than likely moved on, and they do not remember the event you found offensive. In fact, they may not even know they offended you. Grow up and get over yourself. Realize you’re not that special. Choose to “Let it Go” as the popular theme song from Frozen states.
Stop being so entitled and judgmental. Those of us who are easily offended are often very entitled and feel justified in our entitlement. We believe we are owed by the world and others or that we deserve things we truly do not. We are also very judgmental of others, such as things that are said, looks, cars, homes, relationships, jobs, etc. You name it. It really is about our own insecurities and jealousy.
Be teachable. Offended people are, oftentimes, not very teachable. We believe we have much to teach others but very little to learn from others.
Think before you speak. This is a big one that is not easy to do. We often do not stop to think before we speak. We let our emotions and our words control us. Words cannot be unspoken. When you get triggered, count to ten, really think about the words you are about to speak and how much they will hurt or help the situation.
God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Listen twice as much as you speak. Good listeners who can repeat what the other person is saying and how they feel validate the speaker.
Garbage in garbage out. What you fill your mind, body, heart and soul with is what will come out of your mouth. What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of books do you read? What kind of TV, movies or news are you listening to? What kind of people, groups or social events do you surround yourself with? Show me your friends, and I will show you who you will be in five years.
Follow the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Work the 12 Steps. This one can take several months to several years and is really a lifestyle change that can become indefinite. Work a 12-Step program specific to your addiction to being offended. (This resource is coming soon.)
Be O. I. C. A. Be obedient to overcoming being offended. Be intentional by sticking to the goal you set for yourself in overcoming being offended. Be consistent with daily and weekly goals. Be accountable to another person or have someone of authority who can speak into your life, such as a mentor.
Serve others. Nothing is more humbling and will help you get over being offended as serving others. Find a place you can serve others as a volunteer for the next 90 days.
Stop letting your feelings dictate how you act. Our Western culture has lied to you if you allow your feelings dictate how you act. This is a very foolish way to live and is the cause of much of your problem with being offended. You feel hurt, disrespected, angry or fearful. Then, you act the part. Begin to act joyful, loving and kind, and the feelings will eventually follow. Fake it until you make it, as we say in recovery. Also, one of the best kept secrets and most powerful recovery tools is simply taking time each day to journal your thoughts and feelings.
Pray. Prayer not only changes things; but most importantly, it will change you. Believe it or not, you are a spiritual being having a human experience. I don’t care if you have no faith, don’t believe in God or do believe in God. Prayer will change a heart at war, which is always looking to be offended, possibly by another heart at war. Begin to thank God for everything He has given you. Make a list. Keep a prayer journal.
Understand true forgiveness. I always use to think of forgiveness as, “I forgive you for your wrongness.” This is not true forgiveness. In fact, this is pride. True forgiveness is about ceasing to accuse those who you believe have hurt you, regardless if they ever come and ask you for forgiveness. You see, the secret to freedom is not only seeking forgiveness from those who have hurt you but also forgiving others who you believe have hurt you by ceasing to accuse, blame and criticize (the ABCs) them in your heart, thoughts and behaviors. Take some time and make a resentment list of all the people who have hurt you. Go through each name one by one. Speak out loud to forgive them, and set yourself free.
Take responsibility for your own thoughts feelings and behaviors. I have a sign in my office that clients can see when they sit on my couch. It reads, “You are responsible for the energy, attitude, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you bring into this room.” You! No one else is responsible for any of these things. We are not in control of what others might say or do to us, but we are responsible for how we process what people say and do to us.
Following these simple yet life changing steps will help you begin to overcome your addiction to being offended.
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.