"Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness."
~ James Thurber
There have been a number of contentious threads over the past week or so, resulting even of the departure of one or more longstanding members. Without trying to single anyone out, any topic out, being insensitive, or igniting further contention, I would like to share my own thoughts and experiences regarding being offended, taking offense and taking things personal. Hopefully there will be some wisdom in this that could prove beneficial to us all.
After my awakening and during my subsequent search for knowleldge over the past year after leaving the cult, I came across the phrase, "you can be right, or you can be happy". At first I didn't quite grasp what the meaning of this phrase could be. As I thought about it more, I began to understand that it was less about whether you are really right or wrong, and more about being secure, confident and at peace with yourself such that the argument itself doesn't really matter.
When you are secure, confident and at peace with who you are, what you believe and your chosen path in life, it becomes less and less important whether anyone else agrees with you or not. When others don't agree with you, despite your presenting a well presented position, you recognize that your own unique experiences, education, and thought processes contributed to how you understand an issue, and in return understand that those in disagreement with you were similarly shaped and influenced by their own unique experiences etc. This doesn't necessarily mean neither participant will ever change or grow into other opinions or beliefs, it's just that currently your at an impass which doesn't bother you because your at peace with yourself and your own knowingness. Like Morpheous, when others don't believe as you do, you think to yourself, "my beliefs do not require them to".
Offense is a choice influenced by unresolved inner conflicts of the one taking offense.
The above statement is my personal understanding and belief and may not either make sense or may even be considered offensive. This is where I may unintentionally cause someone to take offense or misunderstand. However, I am willing to risk that because I really believe there is wisdom to understanding what this statement means. This is where learning opportunities are discovered in the heart of conflict. When something comes across to us as hurtful, then likely it is a reminder of some past unresolved hurt. This gives us the opportunity to do some introspection of what really triggered this hurt in the first place. Once we recognize the source of this hurt and see it for what it really is and any possible illusion behind it, we can begin to heal from it and not dive into another downward spiral.
So when someone unintentionally offends us and we lash out at them, we are really killing the messenger who had no idea that what they said would trigger a reaction. This is why we are each offended by different things and can't be sure if someone will take offense for what was believed to be an innocent comment. We are each like mirrors and messengers to each other. Things that others do that bug us, are often our own perceived insecurities or deficiencies. Doing some reflecting on your own life, you will likely begin to see how this is could be true.
Though this may sound like a principle of the gospel, forgiveness is really a key tool that primarily benefits yourself, and not the person being forgiven. Holding grudges and sometimes regrets can cancur your own authentic self, like a spoiled apple ruining the rest of your desirable qualities. Forgiving and loving yourself is sometimes the hardest as we are often our own worst critic.
I hope I am not comming across as preachy or as a "know it all". I need this advice as much as the next person. I care deeply for each person on this forum and so desire for your well being. Taking responsibility for our own happiness and unhappiness is a step in being truly at peace with yourself, and really liking yourself for who you are, "warts and all". Life is too short to continue repeating downward spirals that we could otherwise choose not to participate in. The next time something comes across as hurtful to yourself and before lashing out at the messenger, take a moment to really think about why it is that you are hurting, what the source experience was, and whether the offense seemed intentional or not.
I say these things in the name of cheeseandcrackers!