Becoming Unoffendable

It seems to be a lifelong process realizing the importance of becoming unoffendable. Many things occur in our life that may cause us to be offended. But, what does it mean to be offended? Being offended usually refers to an emotional state or reaction that occurs when someone says or does something that is contrary to our sensibilities or our concept of right or fair. The level of offense taken may be measured by the depth of emotional connection with the person who has done or said the offensive thing. The more you care about the person the deeper the emotional reaction may be.

Since we are all human, the “normal” reaction to something that offends us comes from our ego and since the prime directive for the ego is to defend itself, we go into defensive, protection mode. While this response is usually the initial reaction, it clearly may not be the best one nor the one to take dominance in the way we choose to respond to things that occur in our lives that are upsetting or offensive. It is not to say that a person will never have a reason to feel anger or sadness at an offensive situation, but one must not live in this space for any longer than necessary.

There is a story about the Buddha that is applicable to this subject:

There was a man who constantly harassed and insulted the Buddha, throwing all sorts of verbal abuse at him. But the Buddha never seemed fazed by this. When someone asked why he didn’t take offense, he simply replied…

If someone gives you a gift and you refuse to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?

So as with this story it is important to realize that when offensive things occur that the person who is being offensive is attempting to gift you some of their negative or painful energy. It may not be a gift wrapped in a pretty bow, but it is yours to decide how much of this “gift” you are willing to bring into yourself and hold in your emotions. It is also a fact that there are occasions that the ego gets itself all kinked up when there was no offense intended. So remembering that we have the choice of what we receive and perceive is always ours.

As long as a person continues to feel that the world needs to change in order for them to be happy, they will continue to suffer and no one or nothing outside of themselves can change that.

The most important step to becoming unoffendable is for the individual to come to the realization that the source of their suffering is not “out there” and beyond their control, but rather is within themselves. We can come to accept that we can never fully control everything that goes on around us, but begin to see that we have choice about how we will react to those things that happen in our lives. We can begin to see that by taking responsibility for our emotions we also gain the power to free ourselves from useless suffering about things we cannot control. In time we can come to know that nothing can touch and affect the state of our emotions unless we allow it. When you eliminate the room that was once filled with being offended, you make room for more love and compassion.

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Battle of the Two Wolves

There is a Cherokee proverb that goes like this: “There is a battle of two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. The wolf that wins?? The one you feed.”

Being human we all have this internal opposition of forces – but it is what we act upon that decides if we remain true to a higher intention and vibration or if we succumb to baser forces and vibrations.

I have moments that I don’t feel so well either physically or even emotionally – I am sure you do as well. It is in these moments that we are likely to be most tested about our intention and commitment to ourhigher potential. For the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge, controversy and discomfort. Life, like a string of tangled Christmas tree lights, will gives us many experiences that will test our patience, our endurance and our good humor. It is in these moments that it becomes vitally important to not lose our way, but to stay focused on which wolf we want to feed.

I think it is also important to remember during times of turmoil that we do not undertake traversing difficult ground alone. We are never alone and are guided, cared for and supported by many in this world and in other realms. There are life experiences so great that without the assistance from our Guides and Teachers we would not be able to reach a safe shore. This has been true in my life – for which I am deeply grateful.

Any experience that causes a negative emotional reaction may trigger our “evil” wolf. It becomes important to find positive outlets for negative emotional reactions…or perhaps as I was told as a child, just count to ten before you decide if you will react. We all feel negative emotions – anger, disappointment, hurt feelings, etc. but just because you feel them doesn’t mean that you have to act on them. If fact, just the opposite is true – given a little space of time the emotional reaction will dissipate and you can regain your balance without having said or done anything you might regret later. It may be useful to use the “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all” approach until you can get a better perspective.

There is useful information underlying the event that triggers our “evil” wolf. Under the emotional reaction is the stored pain of an unhealed aspect of ourselves that is reminding us of the work we have yet to do. It is good to know – but still not a good reason to act on the impulse – only to observe for areas calling out for our attention. It is never justifiable to hurt others because we have been hurt ourselves.

Paying attention to which aspect of ourselves receives the most attention – the most of our energy is the first step in being able to consciously make choices about which wolf we will feed. It is not realistic to expect that we will never have a negative reaction, only that we will have the focused commitment to rise above and consciously choose to act out of compassion even in the most difficult, trying and uncomfortable situations.

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