Have you ever met up with a friend, full of excitement about a trip you took or course you finished? Maybe that friend, when you paused, started to tell you how someone has stolen from them, or a family member has terrible diagnosis.
Your friend needs support, the whole meet up become about them. You go home feeling disgruntled.
Or it may be more subtle, like a person in a store that says something that is in discord with you and your values. Or perhaps they upset your loved one.
We can choose to forbear, or we can choose to be offended.
If we choose the latter, first it takes more energy. It also changes, so very almost invisibly, our attitude to that person. We are less warm toward them, less inclined to invite them. Any further perceived wrongs get harbored. You start to look for wrongs to justify your feelings.
Eventually, we will lose that person because they have no idea why you are moving out of their lives. They will decide that you are flakey, or have changed your affection.
We call this the Offended Person. Nothing seems good enough, they are critical, picky, and find fault anywhere.
Choosing to be offended once and being unaware, can lead to becoming an offended person.
On the other hand, we can choose forbearance. An old fashioned word, which means to carry, or bear with something or someone.
When we choose forbearance, our life is much less stressed. We can overlook the faults of those we love. We don’t mind if our friend has more need to be heard than our trip. We look outward, to the world, to others. We forgive easily because we know that they are human, and some humans don’t care about others. Rudeness of strangers will be so trivial. The imperfections of loved ones will not cause argument.
This does not mean we have no boundaries.
Far from it. If someone says or does something that grieves you and you explain, then if they do it again, something must be done to prevent further harm.
An example: I have a rare neurological disease. My friends have never asked about it. One of them sends a text that caused me anxiety. Because of my rare disease anxiety translates to pain. I told the one who sent the text to please not use such language again. However, a week later, a similar text arrived. I muted notifications from that friend in order to read them at my choosing. A third text caused me to block that person and emailed to say that I could no longer maintain a friendship with someone who cannot respect my boundaries.
For me, people do not frustrate me. I realise we are all flawed in various ways. I can, however, be frustrated by inanimate objects when they do not do what they should. However, this weekend, I have grown hugely in this as my laptop software has rearranged itself. My working life is more awkward and slower. I did not allow frustration to destroy my serenity.
Any negative emotion uses our energy.
Being offended also destroys friendships and other relationships. My mother was an offended person and nothing and no one pleased her. She alienated everyone, including her siblings and in-laws. In my adult life, the only time she was kind to me was when she had a mild stroke in her right brain. The right brain is where we love, connect, and create. As well as other positive functions that are not to do with order.
So we get to choose our emotions. We are in charge of what we allow to dominate our lives. To believe that others make us feel a certain way is destructive and deceptive. No one makes us angry or vindictive. That is our choice. Happy feelings, are a by-product of positivity. So we see that we are designed to be feeling good and happy, though sadness and grief are also normal and must be not be ignored.
Published in Change Your Mind, Change Your Life