Although rarely talked about, there is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness which Wise Ones have known for centuries. It is fundamental to good mental health and used by those who understand the concept that nothing is personal. So, what is this ancient secret I hear you ask? Well, the secret is The Fine Art of Not Being Offended.
But how can you master this art? Well, firstly it’s important to understand that every statement, action and reaction coming at you from another human being is the result of their total life experience to date.
In other words, most of us say and do what we do from our own set of fears, conclusions, defences and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has absolutely nothing to do with us. Most of the time, it has more to do with all the other times, and in particular the first few times, that this person experienced a similar situation, often when they were young.
Our closest family, our partners, our children and our friends — we are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences. More often than not we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions.
This shouldn’t take away the intimacy from our relationships, but help us to understand that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. When we get the concept that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right time for someone to say or do what they are doing— we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would be someone else.
This allows us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement by someone by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering — even if they themselves don’t appear that way on the surface.
Most anger, acting out, harshness, criticism, is actually a form of hurt. When we provide no velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world. We don’t even have to say a thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing.
Those hurting on the inside, but not showing it on the outside, are usually not keen to have someone point it out to them. We don’t have to be our partner’s or friend’s therapist. We only need to understand the situation and move on… At the very least we will experience less hurt and at best, we have a chance to make the world a better place…