If you know me, you know I love to laugh and have fun. But on those rare days when I’m angry and, as we say in the South, “ill” in mood, it’s often because I’ve allowed negative or critical people to ruin my day. Note I didn’t say they ruined my day. No, I allowed them to do it.
But there are some folks who seem to thrive on being offended by the most insignificant things. Another driver cuts him off and he takes it personally – personal enough that he speeds up beside the offender to look at him (or her) with a menacing glare or one-finger salute. The server at the restaurant waits on the table that arrived after they did first and now the entire meal is ruined.. Her covered vegetable dish at the church dinner somehow was mixed in with the desserts and was largely ignored. She’ll never speak to the covered-dish-table committee again.
So, here are ten lessons I’m learning from experience about how to avoid being easily offended.
1. Don’t be so quick to judge another’s motives. In fact, realize that unless you can see within another’s heart (something only God can do), judging their motives is impossible.
2. Not everyone is like you. Some people assume that everyone else thinks like them – especially those who are dishonest and untrustworthy. So, if I’m a liar, I believe everyone else is as well, so I trust no one. If I’m a thief, I expect people to steal from me. Not true.
3. Figure out something else to do with that chip on your shoulder. Daring the rest of the world to look at you or challenge your thinking can’t be a fun way to live. The chip is there because you have some warped sense of needing to be defensive. Find a way to get rid of it.
4. No one enjoys walking on eggshells. Life’s too short to constantly be scared of being taken the wrong way by a thin-skinned narcissist. I’m going to have fun and attempt to be myself. Here’s a fact of life: neither you nor I are the center of anyone’s universe (except maybe our own…).
5. Really, who actually lives to offend others? I’m sure there are some truly mean to the bone people in this world. But I don’t know any. Well, I remember one guy in college. But I think he was just immature. But if I did, I’d just steer clear of them. Most people don’t mean to offend or hurt. So, if you’re offended consider that maybe it isn’t them that has the problem, but you.
6. Be confident in who you are. God created you to become a person of significance. Unless you’re a total jerk, it’s doubtful that everyone is in a conspiracy against you. Guess what? They’re not. Until you grasp that, you’ll always think there’s a target on your back. Isn’t that paranoia? Get real. Be reasonable. Chances are the vegetable dish wound up with the desserts accidentally. Isn’t it possible that you have simply taken something the wrong way?
7. Learn to laugh at yourself. Life’s too short to take everything so seriously. If everyone is laughing at you, maybe you should join them. And if they’re laughing, it’s because they can see the humor in life. Most of the dumb things I do are trivial, not life altering. One of my oft quoted sayings is, “Rick, you’re such a dufus.”. Really…is your name Charlie Brown?
8. Get the burr out of your saddle. If you’re easily irritated, get up and find out the root of your irritation. And likely you won’t have to look beyond your own dissatisfaction with yourself. It the source is avoidable, then avoid it. If not, then get to work on making the situation better.
9. Even if your day is ruined that’s no excuse to ruin someone else’s. Nobody wants to hear your whining. Sorry, but it’s true. Don’t be surprised if people head the other direction when you walk into the room.
10. If what somebody said/did seems out of character, it probably was. Give them the benefit of the doubt. But maybe your interpretation totally doesn’t match their intent. Everyone has a “bad day”. Maybe they just slipped. Extend some grace. Let it go. Get over it and move on.
Oops. I think I hear egg shells cracking…