We all have the things that are the most likely to really bother us. For me it usually comes down to humorous banter that encourages discrimination. When I was young, and pretty stupid, I almost got a friend of mine beaten up because I stood up to a couple of guys who were speaking poorly of homosexuals. Luckily, my friend was very talented at talking his way out of things. We are all touchy about certain things, and our offended reactions to other people aren’t always well thought out. I have been…slowly…getting better at it, but it is something that I can still work on. I think that most of us can.
The reason that it can be so beneficial to let the offenses slip by, and get on with our lives, is because it makes life a lot easier on us to just let things go. The other day we were at dinner with a large group of friends. The service was terrible, and the poor server was scrambling all over the place trying to get our party taken care of. Finally, a higher-up came back from the kitchen with some of our food, and not only didn't he apologize for the poor service, but he chastised us for being in front of a fire exit. My buddy got so angry. He had every right in the world. He asked me if he was overreacting, and I told him of course not. The service was deplorable. But then, I really don’t notice those things too often anymore. And he understood what I meant. If I actually cared about the restaurant, I would tell the management so that they could improve the service, but since I didn't, there was really no need to waste my time or energy on the problem. So we went back to enjoying our time with our friends. I think that it was a much better choice than getting offended.
It is interesting to think about. I try to remember certain situations, but in most cases, when people get offended, there is something more to the reason they take offense than they will admit. I was very surprised when I received a lot of comments on an article lately refuting my suggestion that bad posture leads to…well, bad posture. To quote my cousin: “Yea, that's kind of a no brainer isn't it? If you have a history of bad posture you don't have the muscle structure you need to hold yourself correctly. Your muscles tighten and shorten relative to your posture, so once you've trained your muscles a certain way it's a huge challenge to retrain them.” This is what I have always known to be true, and yet I had quite a few seemingly upset and offended people writing about how posture has nothing to do with hunched shoulders…I still don’t understand it exactly. My best guess is that they may have poor posture themselves, and are placing the responsibility on a calcium deficiency, rather than on their choice to carry their body a certain way.
So now I am paying attention to see if I do this when I find myself offended. Do I misinterpret something that offends me as directed towards me specifically, rather than towards the world in general, and find the offense there? Are we more likely to be offended by people that we do not find a lot in common with, as opposed to the ones that we do? Regardless of why I feel it, I am convinced that I do myself good by just letting it go. I am glad that I have become a person that sometimes doesn’t notice situations where I could take offense. I think that it makes me a happier person in general, I am pretty sure that I have more fun, and I know that it reduces my stress. Next time you find yourself in a situation where your automatic reaction is to feel offended, take a minute and examine how important it really is to hold onto that emotion, or whether it might be more beneficial to you, to just let it go.