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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