Once upon a time a friend invited The Child and me to a concert with her family.
I immediately said yes and set a reminder in my calendar for the following weekend.
The next morning I received a text from my friend:
There’s been a change. I need to make the concert family only. I hope I don’t offend you.
Her text perplexed me.
My first thought? I hope everything is OK!
My second thought? I’ll tell The Child and we’ll make new plans!
Nowhere in my thoughts? Any sense of feeling offended.
I immediately called my friend and shared both my first reaction (all was generally OK) and my realization with her.
It’s virtually impossible to offend me. I told her. I wonder why? Would anyone really be offended by a change in plans?
People are funny, my friend responded. But more than that you’re not offended because you’re you.
Action/reaction is based on life experience.
When I was younger this idea made little sense to me. How could someone’s reaction to a specific and current interaction be based on a past experience? As I grew older I began to grasp how complicated we humans are. We are practically incapable of entering situations without toting along with us all the past experiences/interactions we’ve had. We humans do not exist in a vacuum. Sometimes we (the royal) are aware of other people’s life experiences. More often, and most especially when we don’t understand ‘reactions,’ we are not. It’s pretty impossible to offend me because I know reactions/actions are triggered by something much *deeper* than a brief moment in time.
What’s happening often has little to do with me.
I cannot recall a time I didn’t feel this way and it’s something I discuss frequently with friends who self-identify as ‘fragile.’ Whether a person’s reaction to me/our situation is fantastically positive or alarmingly negative I recognize the scenario is far more complicated than the specific interaction. The interaction is both our (subconscious) recollections of the first time we encountered a dynamic like the one we’re currently experiencing. The moment is filtered through that lens first and only after is it experienced/felt.
Not to living on the defensive or from a place of not ‘getting’ or having enough as helped me tremendously in appropriating this mindset. I instinctively approach life from a place of assuming benevolent intent. I intuitively sift through words which could have otherwise offended to the kernel of truth or the idea beneath.
The interaction isn’t about me at all. I’m merely representative of all the various people with whom the other individual has interacted. Living with this perspective facilitated my realization of, if I weren’t present for the interaction/moment, the scenario would unfold precisely the same with another person in my place.
I remain who I am regardless of reactions to me.
I’m detached to other people’s reactions in the same way I strive to be detached from outcomes. This doesn’t mean I don’t care what others think or I’m not invested emotionally in the person with whom I’m interacting. It means I’ve come to realize all that happens around me is merely information. Whether the data I receive is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ will be determined by how I choose to process it. Self-acceptance for me meant I was no longer internally fragile. Maturing to this place facilitates my rarely experiencing feeling offended because my validation no longer comes from others.
I am who I am regardless how others perceive me or interact with me. I am content.
- Would you have been offended by my friend’s text?
- What advice would you offer someone who struggles with feeling easily offended?