Obstacles to Intimacy Series
~Exploring God’s Gift of Intimacy~
In the Obstacles to Intimacy Series, we discussed Obstacle #1: Sex Addiction, Tips & Tools to Overcome Obstacle #1, Obstacle #2: Intimacy Anorexia, How We Become Intimacy Anorexics, Reactive Intimacy Anorexia, The Anorexia Cycle and Tips & Tools to Overcome Obstacle #2.
The third obstacle to intimacy is an offended heart. Many of our clients have requested we write more about the offended heart or what we refer to as the addiction to being offended. In this article, I will define and list the characteristics of an offended heart.
An offense is often defined as an annoyance or resentment that is brought on by a perceived insult or disregard for one’s standards or principles. Whether it be something rude or insulting to another individual to cause hurt feelings or anger, it can be extremely unpleasant. It may be an aggressive or painful attack upon another person to cause extreme displeasure or resentment.
We believe an offense is given birth when an individual is deceived by either another person or by their own negative thoughts, feelings or behaviors.
Whether an offense is real (a genuine mistreatment of someone) or imagined (someone’s perception that they have been mistreated), they are both considered an offense.
2 TYPES OF OFFENSE
There are 2 types of offense or persecution you can experience.
- A Self-Inflicted Offense (Non-righteous): The first type of offense is a self-inflicted offense. Due to our sin or thoughts, feelings and behaviors, we may endure an offense that we brought on entirely on our own. The spiritual law of reaping and sowing is a great example of this type of offense. If you sow good seeds, you will reap good seeds. If you sow bad seeds, you will reap bad seeds in your life. If you choose to be unfaithful to your wife, she may be offended with you. Your offense toward her is a self-inflicted offense due to sin.
- An Others-Inflicted Offense (Righteous): The second type of offense is an others-inflicted offense. You may experience persecution from others for choosing the path of righteousness, for doing what is right or for chasing after God’s calling on your life. This is an offense you may be expected to carry for the sake of righteousness.
You may experience offense or persecution from others for a variety of reasons. However, these two types of offense will cover the majority of situations you will face in life.
Through our counseling experience, we have come up with 10 character traits of an Offended Heart. Please review these below and ask yourself if more often than not it applies to you. If it does, mark yes. If not, mark no. Try to be entirely honest with yourself.
- Do you often play the role of the victim? An offended heart addict will assume the worst of others. They may believe everyone is out to get them and make their life miserable. They will often play the role of the victim, which we will discuss in great detail in the next blog article.
- Do you struggle with negative, pessimistic thoughts toward others or circumstances? We often refer to these negative thoughts in our Anorexic Thinking list. Feel free to download this list and mark the items you tend to gravitate toward in your thinking process. (Examples are as follows: exaggerated thinking, bitterness thinking, should have, could have, would have, if only thinking, judge, jury & executioner thinking, absolute thinking, justification thinking, comparison thinking, magnification thinking, minimization thinking, awfulizing, feeling over facts, facts over feelings, labeling, accusation/blame, entitlement, self-righteous/prideful thinking, and criminal or victim thinking.
- Do you easily become defensive and argumentative with others or over circumstances? Many offended heart addicts are easily offended. In Matthew 24 it states that in the last days, many will be offended. They will betray one another and hate one another. Unfortunately, in our recent American culture, we have become quickly and overly offended with others or by our circumstances. So much so that we have removed the recitation of the American Pledge of Allegiance from our own school rooms. A pledge to our own country has become offensive. I believe we are doing a disservice to the men and women who fought for us to have that freedom and who believed firmly in that pledge by removing it from our schoolhouses. It should be something we rejoice over; however, the enemy has infiltrated our schools and caused many to be deceived by requesting it be removed and not allowing our children to have a heart of patriotism but of distain and ungratefulness in regard to the birth of our great nation.
- Do you daily accuse, blame or criticize others with your thoughts, feelings or behaviors? Again, this is another very insightful characteristic of an offended heart… if not the heartbeat of the offended heart. As I have stated before, we refer to these as the ABCs: accuse, blame and criticize. This individual may continually think negatively, speak negatively or behave negatively toward others. They use a shame-based approach in all areas of life: marriage, parenting, business, etc. Shame does not make someone want to turn from their ways – repentance does!
- Do you require OTHERS to change with an unwillingness to change yourself? This behavior is also common among those with an offended heart. Many are self-righteous and prideful, thinking they are better than others. As such, they have no need to change, because it obviously wouldn’t be them who needs to adjust anything, especially to accommodate someone else. They are scarcity minded, believing there is never enough, which in turn causes their selfishness to explode. They will consistently accuse, blame and criticize others to avoid looking inward at their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
- Do you rarely apologize or admit you are wrong? This characteristic feeds off the one we just discussed. Because they are practically perfect in every way, there is no need for them to apologize to another human being or to admit they are flawed or imperfect. They may often be an intimacy anorexic and do not see the need for others’ influence in their life, so they don’t have a desire to keep the bridge open between them and others. They will often burn bridges in an effort to preserve themselves instead – not realizing the need for others to speak into their lives. They may not experience the blessing of confrontation and restoration because of their inability to admit weakness or fallibility.
- Do you ever experience an inability to sleep due to consuming negative thoughts or behaviors? Oftentimes, an offended heart will wallow in self-pity. They may even role play or fantasize about having a discussion with someone who may have wronged them. They may “tell the person off” or “have words” with them. They may just think these thoughts or they may even rehearse them audibly. The enemy has them so worked up that it is difficult for them to think about something other than the offense. They may even experience an inability to sleep due to the consuming offensive chatter in their mind.
- Do you greatly desire revenge, to get even, to find restitution or to level the playing field? This characteristic is also very common for an offended heart. Not only do they want to tell someone off, they also want to harm them. We have had many couples who have come to our office due to an affair. The one who has been cheated on wants so desperately to hurt the other spouse that many will even have an affair as a way to lash back.
- Do you allow your emotions to dictate your behavior? An offended heart is driven by emotion. They are often much like that of a volcano with lava stirring about until someone hits the right button, and they explode, damaging everything in their path. Due to their heart of bitterness and resentment, everything in life is tainted by the offense or offenses they are harboring. Their ability to behave in a righteous manner may significantly decrease or be extremely difficult to achieve.
- Do others see you as arrogant, unteachable or entitled? This is the last characteristic of an offended heart. Others may see you as arrogant and prideful. As you have seen throughout these character traits, many are linked together. One who is unteachable can also not find fault with themselves. One who is entitled cannot understand generosity or the need for others. They believe they deserve special treatment from others and tare arrogant enough to believe they deserve it.
As you can see, there are many characteristics that may lead to an offended heart. I recommend you take our Offended Heart Test to see if you may have an issue with this obstacle to intimacy. If you have answered yes to 5 or more of these questions, we have a number of other articles on the Offended Heart you may want to read.
In my next blog article, I’ll be discussing the Victim & Victor Cycle.
Kerry Schortzman is the Director of Operations at Transformed Hearts Counseling Center as well as an author and speaker. She has traveled the road of recovery alongside her husband through the wildfires of intimacy anorexia. She has a heart and passion to see healing and restoration in relationships and marriages as well as to bring public awareness to eliminate sex and human trafficking. Kerry has been married since 1998 and lives in Colorado with her husband and four daughters. She and Cory 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.
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.