Being Offended is a Choice

by Jim Hayes on March 27, 2011

Yes, being offended is a choice.  This isn’t a popular view in a world where any rude, inconsiderate, or uneducated comment can throw the the media/twiterverse/facebook into a tailspin.  No matter what someone says to you, you and only you make the choice to be offended (maybe this statement is offensive to you… if so keep reading).

Do people stay stupid things?  I do and there is a chance you may have at some point as well.  The question is why am I offended when someone says something dumb?  It seems like there are a few reasons why we become offended including:

1) You think you are right. I wrote a blog post, Why I’m Never Wrong, because I love to be right.  When you love being right someone saying your wrong is a sure fire way to feel offended.

2) You are personally connected to what’s being attacked/mocked. If you have a family member serving our country, negative comments about soldiers are going to cause you to bristle and feel offended.  Same with jokes about the earthquake in Japan.

3) You are afraid that what was said might be true. This is the sneakiest of the three as you might not even be aware of what is going on.  If a spouse or co-worker attacks you in an area know you are weak in you will feel offended.

Even if you insult my brother serving our country overseas or think I am the worst boss in the world (and tell everyone in the office) I am 100% in control of if it offends me.   Offended people are usually not happy people and I don’t want to live stuck (by my own choice) in the land of offendedness.

If you have 18 minutes, watch this video by Michael Hyatt that talks about overlooking offenses and learning from criticism.  He approaches the topic from a Christian perspective but I think anyone can learn from the ideas he presents.

What else causes you to feel offended?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sage Gerard August 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Being offended has led me to say and do stupid things in a futile effort to “prove myself” in some fashion, and that has obviously only led to trouble. However, I do feel there are times when it is perfectly fine to be angered only if your reaction is rational enough to justify said anger.

To give an example, imagine that someone makes a joke that targets group A and it (the joke) becomes popular. Some members of group A become offended, and voice that offense. I believe that the joke should still be spread in the spirit of free communication, but we should not ban everyone from being offended by the joke. Why insult someone (seriously or not) and then tell them how they should feel?

The only time I feel taking offense is justified is when what provoked you is truly threatening your very way of life. Imagine if that joke I mentioned starts to spur other jokes and entire social shifts that actually pass legislation that harms group A.

It is under these contexts where I feel that taking offense allows someone to take charge over who they are so that others don’t speak for them.

Taking offense only becomes a real personal issue if your emotions alone guide your reason, and prohibit you from becoming a better person.

Dena Dyer October 9, 2011 at 6:01 pm

This is timely for me. :) First, welcome to the High Calling blogs community. We’re really glad you’ve joined us.

I had someone that was offended by something I said recently. I was too flippant about a touchy subject, and apologized. But this person would not let it go without attacking me, and making sure I knew just HOW offended she was, etc. I do think she’s not a happy person, and tried to not let it affect me too badly. I like what you said in the first part of the post–if we’re all flawed, then why should be so upset when someone (and that includes ourselves!) says something dumb? I’m just thankful for grace.

Again, welcome to The High Calling. I look forward to interacting with you.

AnonymousAnne June 11, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Is it a good or bad thing to be offended? I do agree being easily offended is wrong. I think never being offended can be wrong. I think most things should be taken lightly, not everything. People should always be held responsible for what they say.

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