Last week I watched an email argument unfold. Ever have one of those? It’s funny how even the most unassertive individuals become badasses behind the keyboard. It’s easy to misinterpret messages we receive by email or text because we’re missing crucial nonverbal components (body language and tone of voice).
Sensible people know this, yet they still leap to offense. The sad part about the interaction was that neither party was intentionally being cruel or even a smidgen unkind. Two smart, successful adults lost their shit over a simple miscommunication.
We live in a highly offended world. We protect ourselves from the sting of insult by clothing our egos with armor. We wear prickly quills and behave like animals in predatory defense. But our armor does not protect us. Instead, it weighs us down.
Our armor may shield us from the flaming arrows of offense, but it also keeps us from experiencing joy, compassion, and life’s simple pleasures. How can we even understand what anyone is really saying when we’re standing at arm’s length shouting, shields up in defensive mode?
A friend asked the question on social media, “Does it offend you (her social media audience) when I post pictures of my boyfriend cooking breakfast? Do my celebratory status updates make me appear to be bragging?”
Seriously? I find it incredibly sad that this woman had to ask whether her small wins were making her so-called friends uncomfortable. Jealousy is a mirror, revealing resentment and deep longing for what’s missing in our lives. It highlights the hollow places within us and creates an angry hunger to feed our own lack.
If we find ourselves becoming irritated, jealous or offended, we have an opportunity to shift our awareness. I have to ask myself whether Beyonce’s booty dance is truly disgusting or if her feminine prowess makes me feel clumsy and less attractive.
When we keep ourselves in armor, we cannot see what lurks beneath our own protective layers. We miss the chance to create positive internal changes that will ultimately leave us happier. Because being offended is uncomfortable, and no one who’s seething beneath the surface is experiencing joy.
The phrase ignorance is bliss comes to mind, and I’m thinking it might not be so bad to live in a state of “unaware,” to not give a flying f*ck because I refuse to concern myself with what other people are thinking. “What other people think is none of my business.” But I don’t have to go to great lengths to stay ignorant. I can be conscious of an insult or offense without being connected to it. Read more on the concept of detachment here.
Next time an email offends me, a social media selfie annoys me, or some cause raises my quills, I will try instead to examine what may be unresolved within me. I will remember that the root of suffering is NOT offense– it is my connection to offense.
Here’s to disconnecting.
Mantra: Sometimes happiness is a matter of humility.