MIDLIFE MUSING - TAKING OFFENCE

Midlife Musing - Stop looking for reasons to be upset and offended - give others the benefit of the doubt

TAKING OFFENCE

What is it about people taking offence at things? It seems everyone has an opinion on everything and as soon as they meet someone who disagrees with them or doesn't conform to what they expect, they choose to take offence. I think the word "choose" is the vital ingredient here - because we make the choice as to whether we want to take offence or whether we want to give people grace and the benefit of the doubt.

CHILDHOOD

When I looked at the picture above I smiled a little bit because small children pouting is such a normal part of childhood. They get upset at little things and it colours their whole world - the blessing is that they move on from what offended them really quickly and their life is back to simple pleasures in no time. They have tiffs with their friends, they get annoyed at their parents and siblings, their feelings rocket up and down at the drop of a hat. But what's funny in children isn't quite as attractive as you get older.

TEENAGERS

We've all experienced the wrath of a teenager at some stage if we've parented them. It is inevitable that a teenager will take offence at the boundaries we put in place for them - we think we're keeping them safe and helping them to make good choices, they think we're killjoys and party poopers. A pouting teenager is not a pretty sight!

ADULTS

Fortunately we all move on from teenager-dom and mature into adults. We pride ourselves on being sensible and open to the thoughts and needs of others. We think we are fine with other people having different opinions to us and different priorities. And yes, most of the time we are......but then those differences impact on us in some way and that's when the rubber hits the road.

Have you noticed how easy it is to offend people now days? You only have to voice the opposite view to someone and you are immediately made to feel like you've committed a mortal sin. We walk around on eggshells to try to keep everyone happy, we overthink things before we say them in case there is room in there to cause grief. We take it upon ourselves to be politically correct every time we open our mouth these days.

Stop looking for occasions to be offended - Wayne Dyer

QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF

But what happened to the other person taking responsibility for their reaction? What happened to the other person giving us the benefit of the doubt? What happened to 'innocent until proven guilty'? What happened to being a big person and choosing not to be offended by another person't point of view?

How much heartache would we spare each other if we took the high road and chose to let others be human? People can be incredibly stupid at times, and incredibly wrong, but that doesn't make them unworthy. It doesn't mean you have to become angry or offended. You can choose to let them believe what they like and to hold a different opinion yourself. Being exposed to other points of view can be good for us - it can widen our world, it might change our opinion or perspective, or it might even reinforce our own beliefs if we consider theirs but choose to keep our own. Let's be kind and treat each other with care, let's choose not to take offence.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you easily offended? Do other people and their opinions bug you or are you able to let it wash over you? Can you care about a person while they hold views that don't mesh with your own? Can you be the bigger person or is it easier to walk away? I think I'm mellowing with age and I'd rather not cut another person down to prove a point. I want to be kinder and to let others hold their opinions without being offended or holding a grudge.

Midlife Musing - Stop looking for reasons to be upset and offended - give others the benefit of the doubt

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43 comments

  1. We have laughed about this, that people are so easily offended these days. Good grief, get over yourselves. One we get older a lot of that just doesn't stick any more. Great post for our times, Leanne :)

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    1. It's so true isn't it Terri - everyone is just waiting to hear something they can be offended by. Political correctness has gone mad.

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  2. What a great post Leanne. So very on point for today. I am getting tired of the shocked look on friends faces when I don't agree with them on certain topics. They shake their heads and look at me as though I am just not capable of having an opinion. Their problem, not mine.

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    1. I think self confidence and the ability to let other people have their own view is the only thing that saves us these days. Ignoring those who choose to get a bee in their bonnet, and not trying to please everyone by not having an opinion is definitely the way to go.

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  3. When I was teaching in state secondary schools we would have a meeting every term to discuss the latest offensive terms. Honestly, it was hard to keep up. Offensive words change so quickly and God forbid you use the wrong expression. In teaching it could end up with a suspension or worse.

    I think one of the reasons for this is that we have little to occupy our minds. For example, if there was a serious famine or WWII, we simply wouldn't have the inclination to be offended - too busy trying to stay alive.

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    1. Good grief! It gets more ridiculous every year doesn't it? In Australia we have the big same sex marriage debate going on and people are being shot down in flames for having an opinion - maybe we do need a famine or a war to distract us!

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    2. This makes me very glad I'm not teaching anymore. This was bad enough 50 years ago when I was teaching.

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  4. I believe the media brings a lot of contention and hard feelings - there are so many "news" shows that rely and stirring up their listeners that people think you have to be negative and offensive to make your point. Offended seems to be the new norm.I have the desire to live a more forgiving and less judgmental life, but unfortunately, I sometimes find myself caught up in it. We all need to "take a chill pill" and be nice. No matter what.

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    1. It's about kindness and tolerance isn't it Melody - and taking a step back when we realize we're getting sucked into the drama. Why not just believe the best in people - it would make life a lot more pleasant :)

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  5. All so true, Leanne. The older we get the more ridiculous our "pouting" becomes. People speak first and think later. You've probably done the same thing, so why take offense at their "off the wall" comment?

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    1. It seems to be so easy to put your foot in your mouth these days - we need to second guess everything we say in case someone is going to be upset - I wonder where it will end up Shirley?

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  6. I think people who take offense so easily are often trying to assert their views more than minimize yours, but they're still a PIA to be around. I know people like this - who call you on a harmless comment, or interpret a snub where there hasn't been.

    My mother said to me recently about someone's actions, "I always consider intent," and it stayed with me. Often the reason we're offended at all is because of what we think motivated a behavior. So often we're wrong.

    Either way, the flip side, looking for a way to be pleased, is my way to go when possible.

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    1. I think you're right about people assuming they know what motivated a comment, when often it has nothing to do with what the original person was meaning. I think if we try to assume the other person didn't mean to be offensive then we're half way to solving the problem. It's just getting everyone on the same page that's the problem.

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  7. I have never thought of it in this light but the I think some people I know what to be offended, they want to be contrary, the Devil's advocate. I think it gives them a righteous role or they just like to argue and are batshit crazy!
    I know with some people I can not talk politics but I do have a line that when crossed I become not offended but reactionary.

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    1. I think people are more self centred these days Haralee and can't accept being wrong or the idea that other people are entitled to think differently - they see it as an affront - I just can't be bothered with it any more and just want everyone to choose kindness.

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  8. I agree totally! People are just looking for things to take offense.

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    1. Exactly Rena! And it's a choice every time - you can actually choose to give someone the benefit of the doubt and be gracious!

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  9. I’m not easily offended. I often even miss it, until days later, that someone was, indeed, insulting me. That said, in recent weeks and months, listening to people has widened my horizon on why people are offended by certain actions, words, or viewpoints. I often find myself thinking, “I never thought of it that way.”

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    1. I like that you've "never thought of it that way" Adela - it shows you have a good heart and you're not out there waiting to get in a huff - my kind of person!

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  10. I don't take offence. Ever. It just takes too much work. Obtuse and avoidance is my motto. It's peaceful here.

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    1. I completely agree Diane - I just wish everyone else did too. So many relationships get damaged by people choosing to think the worst - and that's so sad.

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  11. Thanks for posting about this and discussing it too. I agree with Diane Tolley's comment about being being obtuse and practicing avoidance. Sometimes it is all you can do in the face of ignorance and insensitivity.

    SSG xxx

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    1. I'm a big fan of avoidance too SSG - so many confrontations to avoid these days though while we try to keep everybody happy!

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  12. I am so offended...by people who get easily offended!

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    1. Oh Jennifer that gave me a laugh! If we all get offended then nobody will be talking to each other - the world might be a more peaceful place :)

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  13. I agree with Diane who says that taking offense is simply too much work. Way too much work! Thanks for another thought-provoking post!

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    1. I think it's such a shame when the alternative is so much more generous and ultimately less painful for everyone Donna.

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  14. I think it depends on my mood at the time about whether I get offended any more. I also try not to be offensive or unkind but sometimes my mouth gets ahead of my brain!! Life is too short now, hey!! Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 38/52. Next Week's Prompt is Any Regrets?

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    1. I think I'm pretty good at not being offended Denyse, then I feel my feelings getting hurt and wonder if that is just the other side of the same coin. Sometimes I wish everyone would just be kinder to each other and then there'd be less to be upset about.

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  15. I agree. I know people like this and it wears me out trying to tip toe around their emotions. Good post!

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    1. I find I just can't be bothered with them any more Teresa - if I know someone is going to choose to take something the wrong way, then I tend to avoid spending too much time with them because I know it will end badly!

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  16. Ouch...in a good way. Literally, just now, within the space of about 30 seconds, I clicked on 2 links that talked about being easily offended. This is DEFINITELY an issue for me. Apparently, it's one I'm supposed to be working on. Thanks for the nudge, Leanne! Stopping by from the Blogger's Pit Stop!

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    1. I think it's become a much bigger issue for everyone these days Elizabeth - the world seems to be getting smaller and more politically correct. You almost can't open your mouth without offending someone's delicate sensibilities - I'm a bit tired of it all myself....

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  17. I swear some people look on purpose to try and take offense. Swear I could get offended every single day but why and it is not worth it. Enjoy life and get over it and move on. Found you on Blogers Pit Stop

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    1. I think that's a sign of maturity Candy, when you make a conscious choice to give others the benefit of the doubt and not assume they meant to cause you hurt. Immature people are always looking for a reason to start a pity party and I'm over it all to tell you the truth.

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  18. Leanne, thank you for this wonderful, very sensible post. It is exactly what I've been saying lately, and you've presented it so beautifully. Every day I *choose* to not take offense and to be kind. And some days when I get especially weary of all the drama people want to tell me about, I just want to say, "Can we just give it a rest today?"

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    1. Beautifully said Jean - I know what you mean about wanting people to give it a rest - I work with someone who is always looking for a way to be offended or upset and it is soul sucking after a while - I just want to ask her why she feels the need to always look on the wrong side of everything.

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  19. I only voice differing opinions when I know I'm with people who don't need a "safe space." It's a waste of time and never changes a mind or wins someone over. I try to concentrate on what we have in common, not on our differences. I suppose if I open my mouth in a public place these days I'll get in trouble because I'm not up on all the new things I'm not supposed to say. I'm not politically correct. Racial and ethnic groups keep changing the labels we're supposed to use when referring to them, and now we have to worry about using the wrong pronoun for genders as well. What a world we're becoming!

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    1. I'm much the same Barbara - I know who it's safe to speak to about a variety of subjects, and who I need to watch my step with because they are "little flowers" who wilt if they think something isn't how they see it. I'm tending to spend most of my time with bright and sunny people these days and leaving the rain clouds to their own devices.

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  20. This is a great post! Great discussion! Kids have a zest for life about everything. We seem to lose this as we age and create so much more drama in our lives than what really is needed. I always try to remind myself of this and remember the simplicity of a child. Many opinions create a more interesting world:) Thanks so much for this wonderful post. Saw it at the blogger's Pit stop:)

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    1. I think kids are such a great example of simplicity and taking things at face value rather than adults who try to read too much into what is being said. It's a shame we don't hold onto that trust and belief in the goodness of others because it is an absolute asset in this day and age. Thanks so much for visiting x

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  21. I believe some of this comes from the "everyone gets a trophy" era when young people were rewarded/awarded for everything reinforcing the self-centeredness we are seeing today. Just my opinion! Thanks for sharing at The Blogger's Pit Stop! Roseann from www.thisautoimmunelife.com

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  22. Teenagers can definitely give some push back. It is important for parents to remind themselves that this is all part of the normal growing up process.

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