When I was a kid in the back of the station wagon on family road trips, I always put my imagination to work as we drove through the towns on the way to our destination. (No interstate driving for us – my dad liked the scenic route.)
I spent time imagining what life was like for the people who lived in the places we drove through. I entertained thoughts of what it would be like to live in the houses we passed and go home to the families that built their lives there.
Sometimes, I cringed at the thought of what their lives were like and other times I thought it would be a grand adventure to be in their shoes.
As we journey through life, we meet those people. We work with those people. Sometimes we marry those people. They come from radically different backgrounds than our own. They have different beliefs, attitudes and experiences – different pains and burdens to carry. And that’s just one reason why it’s easy for people to offend us.
But here’s the deal. When you choose to be offended (and you CAN choose NOT to), you forfeit your ability to influence. When you get offended, you’re really passing judgment on the other person. And when you judge people, they feel rejected and shut down in the relationship. It’s especially dangerous when this happens with those we’re close to.
Back on the road, my sister was always riding along in the backseat with me (or even stretched out with the seats down in the station wagon with NO SEATBELTS – imagine that. We survived.). We had a lot of opportunities to offend each other on those long trips. In fact, we practiced and got really good at it. Sometimes it’s the people closest to us who know exactly where to aim to hit our soft spots and inflict injury.
So how do you get through a day without being offended? The key is learning how to respond instead of react.
“If you choose to not be offended, then you have taken the first step towards influence.” ~ Jeremy Statton
How to Choose Not to Be Offended
I call the art of not being offended “sitting down on the inside.” When you sit down on the inside, you liberate yourself by letting go of the need to be right. It’s a choice to put down a prideful attitude (EGO with a capital “E”) and listen to another person. Even if they’re wrong. You may feel justified to be offended by someone’s words or actions. You may feel vindicated when you react. But if you’re interested in building enduring relationships, there has to be a better way.
Learning to “sit down on the inside” set me free. Here’s what this phrase means to me:
• Say “I’m sorry” first, even if it’s not your fault. Forgive – even if the other person is wrong. It takes a big person to build a bridge and repair a breach.
“An offended heart is the breeding ground of deception.” John Bevere
• Walking in love is a far more valuable than being right.
Whenever anyone has offended me, I try to raise my soul so high that the offense cannot reach it. ~Rene Descartes
• I don’t have to defend myself. It’s not about me. Every single person has value, even when it’s buried under a pile of garbage. Choose to be a treasure hunter for the good that’s buried in other people.}
So here’s your challenge for today:
Choose not to be offended – it’s exhilarating to let go of the need to be right.