If you’re offended, it’s your own fault!

This thesis is not likely to make much sense unless you are familiar with the overall Psychoharmonics® system.  For a brief review, see the article on this website at: https://doctorstress.com/psychoharmonics/

It is a very common occurrence to have another person do or say something that you find offensive.  For the most part, we’re raised to think that being offended is a perfectly normal and justified behavior to indulge in.  And it is, of course, if you are happy wasting time and energy attempting to achieve an impossible goal.  You’d do well to remember, however, that the source of all stress is the harboring in your own mind of one or more impossible goals.

There’s a trend nowadays, especially among minority groups, to go on witch hunts looking for a reason to be offended.  If a person utters or writes an opinion or uses a word that is not currently politically correct, that person could lose their job, their elective office, or even their life over it.  One pathetic vegan in Germany even managed to get an instumental song removed from the town hall carillon because the words, known only from memory by a listener, said that a hunter would shoot the fox that stole the goose.  Really?  See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38931564  Good luck to that person when music-loving people tell him/her how ridiculously immature such behavior is.  Of course, people who are offended by the behavior of other people claiming they are offended are no less guilty of wasting their time and energy on impossible goals.

When you fail to approve of another’s person’s actions, you are admitting that you have attempted to set goals for that person.  We can set goals only for ourselves.  Ours is the only mind we can control.  We cannot control the mind of another – even if that other is a dog, a cat, or some inanimate object or event.  What most people do, however, is try to fit everybody they meet into a mold made up of their own acquired opinions about how a person should think and behave in a particular situation.  If the person being judged does not measure up to that personal standard, then they are condemned as being wrong.

As an illustration, let’s say you are a young bride who has invited her in-laws over for a Sunday dinner.  You have worked very hard at getting everything right because you want your mother-in-law to be pleased with your home and the table you set.  Instead, you see her swipe a finger across the mantel and show the bit of dust to her husband as she shakes her head in disgust.  Then, at the dinner table, she says she really doesn’t care for overcooked food and asks if she might have a sandwich to tide her over until she gets home.  Now, that’s about as offensive as you can get, right?  Didn’t fit the mold there.  So, what to do?

If you want to be truly wise and wonderful and learn to enjoy peace of mind even in trying circumstances, you cancel any and all goals you might have set for any of your in-laws.  It is not your goal for her to behave as you would and be courteous or approving of you.  And, as with all criticisms that you might encounter in your journey, you take it as an opportunity to learn something useful to you.  You might come to realize, for example, that you need to improve your housekeeping skills and also take your food off the stove a bit sooner.  Or, on the other hand, you might learn that your mother-in-law is a very negative, jealous old woman who resents your marriage to her son and that she will never approve of anything you do.  Whatever the message that you get, you act accordingly, not with an angry, hating, resentful mindset, but with a mindset of love, tolerance, humility, and even nurturance.

You might respond by saying, “I’m so sorry the dinner was not to your liking.  I know I’ll never be able to cook as well as you do, but if you’d show me sometimes how you prepare Tom’s favorite dishes, I would be so indebted to you.  Tell me how you’d like your sandwich.”

You might think that’s wimping out.  No, that’s winning because you are controlling your own emotions instead of letting somebody else push your buttons and control them.  You could flare up at her and say something like, “Well, next time, why don’t I just get a bucket of greasy chicken and some overcooked fries since that’s what you’re used to.   Do you usually get regular or extra crispy?”  That, of course, would play right into her hands and she very well might raise her nose and huff and puff right out of the house.  And how would that go over with your new hubby?

Unless you’re a hermit, offenses will come from every direction all day long and throughout your life – from the time you’re a toddler until you’re on your last leg in a nursing home.  People fail to fulfill their promises and obligations.  They don’t live up to your expectations for proper behavior.  They cheat and slander you.  They steal from you.   And they might even injure you physically, mentally, or spiritually.  In response, you could spend your day like the fairytale character who kept giving everybody a piece of his mind until he had no more mind left.  Or, you could start your day by pledging to yourself that you will not allow anyone to steal your joy by causing you to be offended.  You do this by refusing to attempt to set goals for anyone but yourself.  You don’t try to make dogs meow.  (See: https://doctorstress.com/the-dog-that-wouldnt-meow/)

Forgiveness is not just a religious ritual.  Religious or not, all that is required for you to forgive another’s “offense” is to cancel the goal that you had attempted to set for that person to begin with.  Forgiving is not something you do for other people; it’s something you do for yourself.  As long as you are feeling offended and angrily seeking some way to get revenge, you are not a happy camper.

You increase the moments of joy in your own life when you learn to control your own emotions instead of letting others control them.  Of course, that does not mean you have to continue to put up with abuse.  And, after a lifetime of bad habits, even the best of us sometimes will have little flare-ups when others are deliberately rude or abusive.  In some cases, you might even determine that your wisest course of behavior is to end a long friendship, dissolve a marriage, find another place to do business, seek other employment, or even fire an employee, and so forth.  If, however, you can take these courses of action while maintaining a mindset of love instead of a mindset of hate, then you and all concerned will emerge from the relationship with the least amount of damage and the best chance for peace of mind and future joy.

It’s especially important for you to be mature enough to accept an apology for a perceived offense if a sincere apology is offered.  After all, we’re all humans, and it’s impossible for us to know how everybody else in the world is programmed, especially when dealing with people from another culture or even another generation.  What a sincere apology amounts to is this: I deeply regret that what I said/did offended you and caused you to think I regard you as anything other than the very worthy (a 10+) person that you are.  I do regard you as a most worthy person, and I humbly beg you to overlook my ignorant behavior and allow me to totally and forever retract this most regrettable inadvertent offense and restore our mutually respectful relationship.  Unless you’re pretty low on the totem pole in an Asian society, you probably would shorten that to “I’m sorry.”  If it’s sincere, it means the same thing.

Bottom line: Work toward avoiding setting goals for anybody or anything else other than yourself.  If you slip up and find yourself offended, determine what the goal was that you had attempted to set for another and cancel it.  Then, utilizing your wisest Spirtiual-Cognitive mindset, take appropriate action to achieve your goals and, if it’s an issue, to avoid any future abuse.  Remember, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

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