As we begin the New Year, many have made some resolutions. As I wrote during this time last year, I am not a fan of making resolutions; however, I am a fan of making goals each year.
Several years ago, I made a New Year’s goal of living…unoffended. Little did I know how life changing this was going to be. I will be the first to tell you that I am easily offended, and I fell flat on my face more times than I can count. But I kept getting back up and trying again. As I began to have more success, I gained some significant momentum which continues to this day. I still get offended; however, I am far better at letting possible offenses go, and I am much less likely to pick up an offense for the sake of being “right” or my perceived “rights” being “violated.” Believe me, I can get offended just by thinking about the previous day while still in bed in the morning before my feet even hit the floor.
Throughout my recovery, there have been many tools that have helped me along the way, such as the support of others in a support group, working the 12 Steps, therapy, reading all kinds of books, journaling and prayer. Perhaps the biggest revelation for me has been how deeply rooted and invisible the issue of offense has been. Now, I know about anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, accusation, blame and resentment. As we say in recovery, “resentment is the number one killer of addicts,” which is very true. However, for whatever reason, it took me over 8 years in recovery to even begin to hear and process this word.
It took me several years to embrace this truth about myself. There is such a resistance to it. I could admit that I struggled with anger, passive aggressiveness, lust, accusation, blame, and bitterness etc., but being offended? Not so. There is something about admitting that “I am offended” or “that offends me.” It’s like admitting the behavior of others is getting to me or getting under my skin, and I’m not going to give them the satisfaction of knowing such. I also realized if I remained offended but “hid” it from others, it meant that I didn’t need to change. I would think, “It’s not my fault. They need to change.” I felt and took no responsibility. I was free…at least so it seemed. However, in reality, it created a great deal of invisible bondage in my life that only multiplied like cancer within me.
I think offense encompasses anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, accusation, blame, and resentment etc. The more I studied this word the more interesting it became. Understanding my addiction to being offended has set my recovery on a whole new level of freedom more than anything else. I really do believe that at the heart of any and every addiction is the addiction to being offended. I believe this is a possible cure to any and every addiction.
The root word offend [uh-fend] – can be offended – can be broken down further as fend, as in to fend off. Also, it can be offense or offensive. What is even more interesting is how this can be pronounced as [uh-fens, awf-ens or even of-ens,] which can have different meanings.
The KJV Dictionary defines it as:
- to attack; to assail
- to displease; to make angry; to affront
- to shock; to wound; as, to offend the conscience
- to pain; to annoy; to injure; as a strong light offends weak eyes
- to transgress; to violate; as to offend the laws
- to disturb, annoy, or cause to fall or stumble
- to draw to evil, or hinder in obedience; to cause to sin or neglect duty
Meriam-Webster defines offend as:
- to transgress the moral or divine law: sin
- to violate a law or rule, to do wrong
- to cause difficulty, discomfort, or injury
- to cause dislike, anger, or vexation
- to violate, transgress, cause pain, or to hurt
- to cause to sin or to fall
- to cause to feel vexation or resentment usually by violation of what is proper or fitting
Dictionary.com defines offense or offense as:
- a violation or breaking of a social or moral rule; transgression; sin
- a transgression of the law; misdemeanor
- a cause of transgression or wrong
- something that offends or displeases
- the act of offending or displeasing
- the feeling of resentful displeasure caused
- the act of attacking; attack or assault
So whatever goals you make for this year, get on offense. Kick offense to the curb, and you will be much more likely to achieve them. If you are not sure if you struggle with being offended, take our offended test or contact our office at (719) 590-1350.
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.