There are many things we can be OFFENDED by….
- by inequality,
- by racism,
- by extremism,
- by animal cruelty,
- by bullying,
- by media bias,
- by politicians pursuing their own career goals over that of their constituents,
- by emotional and physical abuse,
- by religious doctrine,
- by greed,
- by anger,
- by selfishness,
- when people are rude,
- when people don’t acknowledge when you let them go first,
- when people push in, or don’t wait their turn,
- by people that get offended and try impose their values on others.
There are so many things you can be offended by, if you choose, far more than I’ve listed above and it is okay to feel offended. Yes really, if you choose to take offence about anything, you can. But understand that taking offence is a choice, it’s an internal process about an external situation, event or occurrence.
It stems from your EXPECTATIONS and/or PREFERENCES that aren’t being met by the situation, event or occurrence.
It also comes from your ATTACHMENTS to ideals, ideologies, ideas, causes, things, people and your thoughts about all these things.
And finally it comes from your PERCEPTIONS of situations, people things, ideas and the world, universe and of existence itself.
The question becomes where do your EXPECTATIONS, ATTACHMENTS and PERCEPTIONS come from? Are they self generated or influenced by the society and culture you have grown up in, or are surrounded by?
Do you have a right to EXPECT anything from anyone or anything? Okay you can be excused for preferring one thing, or outcome, over another, but you don’t have any right of expectation, and you can’t really complain if your preferences aren’t met, can you?
Is it healthy to form ATTACHMENTS to anything or anyone. After all nothing really belongs to you does it? Your partner, your kids, your family, your friends are not really yours are they. They are people you share time and space with, who you love, of course, but when you mentally add a “my”, “mine” to them, you are more than identifying something in a descriptive manner, you are investing a sense of yourself in them. This is attachment. Your mind does this to make itself bigger, better, more. In our consumer focused culture, we are conditioned by society to seek more.
Society’s call to consumption works very well because it plays to our self preservation instinct and our fear of being nothing, because deep down in our psyche, we believe we are a fleeting, temporary particle in time and space and as such vulnerable and insignificant. Society benefits from telling us the more we have (the more we attach to), the more we will BE, because modern society is built on economic growth, it wants us to keep consuming products and services.
With regards to PERCEPTIONS, there is extensive research showing our perceptions to be deeply flawed and influenced by our inner belief systems and values. We see, hear, feel, taste, smell what we think we should see, hear, feel, taste and smell, what we’re primed to, and what we expect to. We run a story over our sense perceptions that works to join the dots, but rather than drawing a direct line, embellishes and exaggerates with story-telling imagination.
For instance, a number of years ago, I went out for a drink with a good male friend of mine. I genuinely forgot to take my phone out with me, this was the days before phones became an extension of our hands. When I got back after 2-3 hours I noticed 15 missed calls from my then, casual girlfriend. Listening to the messages in turn, the content went from a casual, “just giving you a call to see what you’re up to, give me a call back when you get this message”, becoming increasingly agitated with each subsequent message to the last one saying “I know you’re with someone else, why are you treating me this way? CALL ME NOW!!!” Let me just say, I wasn’t cheating on her, I had no intention of doing so, but she was unable to rationally explain the fact that I wasn’t calling her back, which I would normally do straight away, and began to let her imagination run riot, believing I must be cheating on her. I later found out she had been cheated on by an ex boyfriend and as a result had trust issues, but I must admit I was rather freaked out at the time.
Hopefully this makes the point that perceptions are interpreted by internal mental processes, which give all meaning to them. First the event or situation occurs, then the mind tries to find an explanation, which is based on individual beliefs and values, which in turn are built from our own personal past experiences, learned thoughts and behaviour patterns and habits.
I’ve highlighted above some of the reasons we might feel OFFENDED, and if you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ll have noticed the outrage and offence that people seem to feel these days about all sorts of issues, some major some minor. Offence is taken rather than given much of the time. I might offend you by something I say or do, but with no intention from my perspective to do so, but you take offence all the same. You will be offended if what I say or do, doesn’t match an EXPECTATION or PREFERENCE of yours, or if it involves something you have some ATTACHMENT to, or if your PERCEPTION tells you some story about it that isn’t in alignment with your EXPECTATION/PREFERENCE.
It’s okay to be offended, it’s impossible not to be at some point in life if EXPECTATIONS/PREFERENCES, ATTACHMENTS and PERCEPTIONS are at work, but OFFENCE has to be taken to be felt. Remember this, because often AWARENESS is the biggest weapon we have at our disposal to battle internal processing of external events, situations or occurrences and how we feel about them.