Some of us can easily be offended. Either way, we have certainly all fallen into this trap of overreacting to actions or words that, on second thought, were not so serious.
So the question is, why do we feel offended? Where does this inner drive come from that makes us pounce on “the enemy” so excessively?
For some unknown reason and in certain circumstances, our judgment becomes cloudy and it is then the most primitive or emotional part of our brain that takes over. If we are able after the fact to rationally understand that our reaction was overreacting, why don’t we control ourselves when the time comes?
Feeling offended can be a source of great pain. It gives us the impression that others want to hurt us, to humiliate us. We often feel underestimated. It also keeps us in a constant state of alert.
In addition, this extreme susceptibility affects our interpersonal relationships. Our social capacities are then put to the test and this becomes a real source of suffering for all those concerned. What can we do about it?
Why do we sometimes feel offended?
The goal is not to allow yourself to be disrespected or to hurt yourself. There are times when it is logical and healthy to feel offended. Indeed, in such situations where the aggression is obvious, it is important to defend its integrity.
However, in many other cases it is rather a misperception on our part. And this is where we have to learn to act differently
The main factors
It is important to understand what are the variables that motivate such susceptibility. The main factors are:
- Childhood wounds. During our first years of life, we experience situations that mark us. This is a subject that Lise Bourbeau exposes in her work when she talks about the five wounds that prevent you from being yourself.
- Therefore, in adulthood, when someone “touches” one of these unhealed wounds, memories of the pain resurface and amplify what really happened. We are not so offended by what we are told, but rather by what it awakens in our memory.
- Low self-esteem. We are more often offended when our self-esteem is low. An inner feeling of inferiority then leads us to try by all means to make others see us differently.
- We therefore give a false image of ourselves. And when our fragile self-esteem is damaged, even in a small way, we cannot tolerate it.
- Rigidity. It is also common for character traits such as cognitive inflexibility or dichotomous thinking to make us upset. When we think that others must act in a certain way, we run the risk of misinterpreting actions and words that go beyond our expectations.
- A joke can then be interpreted as an offense. Still, it would certainly be fairer to react with humor in such a situation.
- A habit. Repeating a behavior or thought pattern only increases the likelihood of it repeating itself. Repetition strengthens associated neural connections. This leads to a certain automation of reactions.
- Therefore, when some feel offended, it is therefore difficult for them to interpret things using cognitive avenues other than those they are familiar with.
What can we do when we are easily offended?
The main thing is to realize that no one is really trying to offend us. In reality, we are offending ourselves. It’s a choice.
We cannot control the way others talk or behave. Our only choice is therefore to know how to answer them. So we have to get used to not going out of hand and doing personal work where we choose not to feel offended.
If the attacks are clearly aggressive, then use assertive communication. Respect your rights or walk away. However, always analyze the correctness of your interpretation. Indeed, we observe reality through the lens of our wounds and weaknesses.
So you have to get out of this tendency to feel offended and get your mind used to researching and then using other cognitive channels. So, ask for clarification but never assume. Often times, susceptibility leads us to expect the worst. Bad intentions are often taken for granted when the reality is quite different.
By relaxing our interpretation of what others say or do, we can avoid many conflicts. It will improve our social relationships and our inner state. So why not try ? Sometimes it is healthier to know peace than to be right.