There's no better way to suck the happiness out of your life than to constantly feel offended. It generates a toxic environment that makes it hard to build strong relationships with other people, because they will feel they have to be careful around you to avoid offending you.
That's why it's in your best interests to become a tolerant, empathetic person who is not easily offended. But what does it actually mean to feel offended? And how can you grow less easily offended? That's what we'll cover in this blog post.
What Does It Mean to Feel Offended?
Fundamentally, you will feel offended when something upsets you morally. You have a particular belief about a just and fair world, and someone will say something or act in a particular way that goes against that belief. You will feel offended when you take that personally.
Sometimes, it's hard not to. When someone discriminates against you, patronizes you, objectifies you, pities you, or victimizes you, it's natural to feel bad and angry about it. In fact, these emotions are often useful because they can inspire societal change toward a better world.
But there's a balance to be struck here. You can advocate your ideas for a better world without being someone that others are afraid to say their opinions to. How to become such a person (or stay such a person) is what we'll cover next.
8 Ways to Be Less Easily Offended
The first to do when you feel offended is to understand your feelings. Why are you upset? What did you notice that made you feel offended? We often only vaguely understand why we're feeling a particular emotion. When you put the spotlight on what triggered you, it will often seem less harmful than it initially felt.
Second, try to understand why someone is being offensive. Did that person express an opinion with the intention of hurting you? Chances are they didn't. We often draw strong conclusions from an incomplete, flippant, or poorly-worded opinion. In most scenarios, people don't mean to offend.
Third, uncover the constructive criticism underlying the offensive words, particularly if it relates to you directly. Everyone sometimes has poor tone when they're saying something. Sometimes they say things with the intention to hurt you. But that doesn't mean there can't be something useful in their words. Focus on that instead of on their delivery or their intention.
Fourth, understand the context in which something is said. This is especially relevant for online discourse or any situation where there's alcohol involved. The online world is generally quite contentious, because the people who speak up are generally the ones who disagree with something. And alcohol makes people say things in an often cruder fashion than they'd have done otherwise.
Fifth, understand the culture you're in. This is related to the point above. Countries have wildly different standards for what they consider offensive. Tipping is insulting in Japan. Having your hand in your pocket while talking to someone is rude in Turkey. Using your left hand for eating is considered bad form in India. So consider the culture that someone is from or the culture that you're currently in.
Sixth, practice detachment. You are not your opinions. So when someone attacks one of your opinions, that doesn't mean they're attacking you as a person. It's not a direct insult to who you fundamentally are, nor is what they have said or done likely the end of your world. Add a little distance between your identity and your opinions and will be hurt less.
Seventh, stay humble. When you understand that you are not your opinion, it's easier to accept that you may be wrong about some things. You may even be deeply wrong. In fact, you probably are. We all are. It's impossible to have correct views on everything all the time. If you stay humble and allow yourself to change your views in the face of evidence, you're telling yourself and others that the truth is what really matters to you.
Eight, don't be offensive yourself. Someone is more likely to be offensive to you when they'll have perceived a slight from your side first. So don't offend people. Reserve judgment, don't jump to conclusions, and don't look for things to get offended by. The world and the people in it are naturally imperfect, so be gentle and don't add to the negativity.