There are many admirable personality traits that you can have.
But one trait tops them all.
Think of it as an almost superpower-like personality trait…
This trait can take you extremely far in life and help prevent a lot of unnecessary drama, heartbreak and conflict.
That personality trait is not being easily offended.
Why is this so important?
Here’s the thing about being offended:
Sometimes it can be legitimate.
The definition of what’s offensive varies by time period and culture, but if you personally feel offended by what someone said, sometimes there’s a good reason…
Maybe another person crossed a line in a joke they made, or said something about a family member or friend that generally bothered you.
Maybe a person made a comment about politics or religion that really rubbed you the wrong way.
But here’s the thing:
When you respond to that feeling of having been wronged by what was said, you actually empower it and feed into it.
When you wait out your momentary reaction of “what the hell?” you find that a feeling of calm comes over you, and you end up feeling much more empowered and happy for not having lashed out.
Let me explain…
The art of not being offended
Not being offended is simple.
You take your initial reaction of not liking what someone said or wrote, and you wait for a moment.
Then, instead of reacting or buying into it, you consciously choose to move on.
Then you move on!
This includes disengaging from that interaction, ceasing to scroll that social media feed or politely saying you disagree and leaving it at that.
When you refuse to sink your teeth into the latest big controversy, you save so much of your own energy and mental space.
The more that the news and popular culture demands that you care, shout and scream about what they tell you to, one of your greatest powers is to say: no thanks.
When you say no thanks to getting easily offended, you stop indulging in one of the worst addictions of modern internet culture.
The ugly truth is that being offended and caring so much about being offended is an addiction.
It gives us a rush and makes us feel special.
“Do you even know how much that hurt me? Do you realize how upset I am by the cruel words you said?”
You can practically feel the bitter high run through you as you think of saying these words to someone, can’t you?
“People get addicted to feeling offended all the time because it gives them a high; being self-righteous and morally superior feels good.”
But when you drop the need to prove how upset you are to others and stop caring so much about being offended or reacting to it, you build up enormous strength.
Let’s be honest
Let’s be honest:
A lot of the time Manson is absolutely right in what he says there.
We go searching for things to be offended for, or orient ourselves towards being offended.
How much of social media and online clout chasing is basically about this?
How much of modern celebrity and social and political issues have become about showing how offended you are instead of addressing and interacting with the issues we care about themselves?
Half the time, we get offended in order to excuse ourselves from really taking action.
We say something like:
Well I feel strongly about this issue and I hate people on that side of it, therefore it shows I’m a “good person.”
Even say you’re objectively right by some standard, what is this need to be seen or known as a “good person.”
And why does being offended prove it?
Why this obsession with seeking external validation of our hurt or proving we’re good or worthy? Proving it to who, exactly?
“My duty to be tolerant towards the other effectively means that I should not get too close to him or her, not intrude into his space—in short, that I should respect his intolerance towards my over-proximity.
“This is increasingly emerging as the central human right of advanced capitalist society: the right not to be ‘harassed’, that is, to be kept at a safe distance from others.”
Who says you need to be insulated from all insults or being offended?
At what potential cost?
Some great lessons in my life have come from people I found jarring or offensive in various ways but also went on to learn a lot from and grow through my interactions with.
If I’d immediately just responded to disagreeing or being offended, I would have lost a lot of personal growth.
With that in mind…
What does it take to be less offended?
What it takes to break the cycle of being offended is three simple things.
- Stop yourself from reacting impulsively
They said something that upset you or that you think should upset you by the rules of political correctness or your preferred tribe. Great. Let the emotions flow for a moment but don’t respond right away.
- Consider why you want to respond
What is motivating you to show that you’re offended or focus on being upset? Be honest. You’ll often find it’s a desire to feel special, be proven correct or get more recognition for yourself or your identity.
- This is weak. Stop.
If you’re strong in who you are or what you stand for, you don’t need to seek out validation or “prove” anything, especially to somebody offensive. Stop yourself from reacting and move on with your day.
Putting this process into action, take another quote from Mr. Žižek.
“Humanity is OK, but 99% of people are boring idiots.”
What an awful thing to say, right?
Are you offended?
Let’s say, for the sake of this process, that you are quite offended. F**ck this guy, right?
How does he know that you’re probably so uninteresting and basic?
How dare he judge people so harshly, so dismissively?
Plus how is he so sure in his implication that he’s not a “boring idiot,” right?
- Don’t respond and lash out. Feel your angry or sad feeling and process it. Damn, that Žižek guy sure seems bitter, eh?
- Why do you care about finding this offensive or not? Let’s say you’re honest with yourself and it’s because you want to prove the logical falsity of what he says. Huh? The guy is making a blunt emotive statement and a joke about liking humanity as a concept but finding actual people annoying and shallow. Let it go.
- If he’s wrong, all the more reason to not engage with this or get upset by it. Žižek thinks most individual people are asshats. Great. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong. Let’s move on…
See how easy that was?
What about when people really, completely cross the line?
What about if somebody truly crosses the line, say with a threat on your life?
Well, free speech doesn’t cover incitement to violence for a reason. That’s crossing the line, legally speaking.
But if somebody says they dislike a type of person, group of people, ideology or region and says they’d be glad if harm came to it – for example – that is their own odious belief.
It’s not illegal for them to express a hateful wish or to swear and say horrible things.
People do that. They always have.
This trend of being horribly offended and wanting to police speech or get those who offend us in legal trouble or kicked off everywhere, however, is somewhat new.
If somebody really, really crosses the line in insulting an illness in your family, say, mocking a disabled friend or joking about say rape, war crimes or religious violence, you have the right to cut them off.
You can tell them you don’t find it funny, or ignore or block an online thread where it’s being spouted.
It’s often advisable for you to move on from individuals who are full of hate. You may wish to cut off any interaction with them. And you have that right.
But at the end of the day, keep in mind this positive power I’ve written about here:
Not getting offended is a superpower, because it keeps you out of the mud.
When you don’t dignify offensive things with a response, you demonstrate two crucial truths:
Firstly, you demonstrate that you won’t feed into the cycle of drama and hurt that everyone is getting addicted to these days.
Secondly, you demonstrate that in a society so bogged down by victimhood and reacting to what’s done to us, you have chosen to rise above and be proactive and solutions-oriented instead of just focused on what you don’t like.