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“The feeling of being ‘offended’ is a warning indicator that is showing you where to look within yourself for unresolved issues.” ~Bryant McGill
As I ponder back over my forty-odd years on this planet, I can’t really remember going lengths of time without feeling offended. By someone’s words, or actions. It was simply my default reaction.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t enjoy it. Feeling offended never feels good. Ever. There’s always a sting. Which is probably why the (many) “feeling offended” memories are so prominent. And clear.
Some of them were simple and relatively unimportant.
Like the time I was sharing some important insight with my (then) partner. I was mid-sentence and fully engaged emotionally only to be cut short as he decided to take an incoming call from his ex-wife. And promptly left the room.
Yup, I took offence.
Or what about the time, more recently, when I discovered I’d been “unfriended” by one of my oldest friends on Facebook? No explanation offered. Just gone.
Yup, I took (major) offence to that too.
As I reach further into my treasure chest of memories, there are also those bigger “feeling-offended” moments. Those that had a more reaching impact on me. That made me question myself. My values. My self-worth.
My daughter’s dad left the country when she was three. My relationship with him was difficult, so I’ll admit I was relieved. It did mean, however, that I was to be a single parent in every sense of the word.
And I took that role seriously. I was young and naïve, but I did my best with what I knew and felt proud of each parenting milestone.
Her dad, on the other hand, showed up annually for a week or two, created a bit of emotional upheaval, and then left. Again. His input (emotionally and financially) was limited.
I was left to make all the decisions—important or not—and I liked that. It felt free. Independent.
When my daughter was about ten, I decided to move her into a different schooling system, one that I felt she would thrive in. Her dad caught wind of this and decided he had the right to interfere. And he did.
What followed was an unforgettable telephonic conversation, wherein I was lambasted for my somewhat shortsightedness in her educational needs, as well as in my general parenting too!
I. WAS. OFFENDED.
Who wouldn’t be! Right?
And boy, did I wallow in that pit of self-indignant injustice! For weeks!
Just who did he think he was! Seriously??
And it felt uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. I vacillated between anger, hurt, and indignation. I replayed the event over and over and over. It consumed my thoughts. Totally.
Over time, the thoughts faded and life moved on. Yet if I engaged that memory, all the feelings flooded back, just as powerfully.
The sense of injustice.
The feelings of worthlessness.
In a way, I felt powerless to it.
Feeling offended was a reaction. How could it ever be a choice?
In recent years, I’ve come to understand more about how we interact with our thinking. That our thoughts are separate from us. And that engaging with them can be a choice we make. Consciously.
With this in mind, let’s look at what really happens in the process of us feeling offended.
1. We attach our sense of value to a certain aspect of our outer persona (what we present to the world, aka our ego).
If you value yourself as a kind person, it’s not surprising that you would feel offended if someone said you were unkind. Being kind is how you present yourself to the world. It forms part of how you validate your worthiness.
Conversely, if someone told you that you suck at being an astronaut, would you care? Probably not in the slightest.
Because there’s no attachment to that as part of your identity.
In the example above, being a “good mom” was part of my identity. It gave me a sense of validation. Having my parenting questioned left me doubting my sense of worthiness.
But the truth is, we’re not our persona.
Our worthiness is not attached to our ego.
Feeling worthy is not something we find outside of ourselves. It’s inside us. Always has been.
We simply need to reconnect with it.
2. We attach value to other people’s opinions.
Imagine that you’re innocently walking down the street, minding your own business and feeling content. A big burly chap accidentally bumps into you, and as you turn to look at him he screams at you. Expletives flow out of his mouth about how clumsy you are. How you should watch where you’re going.
Yet it was his fault!
How do you feel? Probably pretty offended. And angry. Insulted even. How dare he!
But here’s the thing:
His reaction had absolutely nothing to do with you. At all.
He may have just been fired. Or had a fight with his mate. You were simply the excuse he found to vent his anger.
So, in taking offence, aren’t you wasting your good mood? Will it help matters if you shout back? Will he ever apologize? Doubtful… You’ll just feel bad.
We never, ever, know what others are thinking. Or feeling.
We’ll never see life through their eyes.
Which means our perspectives will always be different.
So how can we ever see someone else’s opinion about us as our truth? It’s their truth. Only theirs.
My daughter’s dad had no idea what I did as a parent on a day-to-day basis. How could he?
Also, his idea of parenting varied hugely from mine. We had vastly different perspectives. In his world, his was right, and ditto, me in mine.
So how could I place any validity or truth to his criticism of my parenting?
How could I truly feel offended?
His outburst was never about me.
It was simply his opinion. That’s all.
Choosing not to feel offended comes from a place of strength. It’s an empowered perspective. A choice. But it doesn’t mean that we’re condoning the offender’s behavior. No, not at all. Quite the opposite applies.
Spiteful or derogatory comments grounded in phobias, like racism or homosexuality, are mostly fear-based. And they’re usually founded in ignorance.
By choosing not to feel offended, we’re taking the high road. A higher perspective. One that feels good.
We’re only ever responsible for our role in this interaction.
Honestly? It’s not always easy. Especially when it’s close to home. Involving someone we love.
Sometimes feeling offended is simply part of the human experience.
And that’s okay.
From an empowered place we can move past it. Let it go. And lean toward our innate sense of well-being.
Feeling worthy feels confident. Content. Relaxed. Safe.
It’s knowing that we’re enough. Total unconditional acceptance. Just as we are. No judgment.
As we extend that to others, we become immune to their behavior. And opinions. There’s just unconditional acceptance.
And that’s when you truly feel empowered. When you can really accept your role in taking offence.
And simply choose not to.
It’s that simple.
About Jacky Exton
Jacky believes that our “thinking” is the key to our wellbeing. Through her coaching programs, she teaches overwhelmed and frustrated overthinkers that they really can find relief from their manic minds. When she’s not running in the mountains, Jacky is also a mom, author, and blogger. Connect for a chat here or learn more about her coaching programs at www.jackyexton.com.
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“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~Albert Einstein
Looking back on my past, I see that I have spent most of my precious time striving to improve myself instead of celebrating the very gift of being alive and healthy. For many years, I though I wasn’t good enough, and perfection was my worst enemy.
I considered myself pretty but not beautiful, somewhat smart but not truly intelligent. In other words, I thought of myself as average, not outstanding. I grew up with the fear of getting bad grades in school because if I ever did, that would have made a new reason for me to feel ashamed and unworthy.
In the Eastern-European schooling system I grew up with, I was always compared to others and every day in school felt like a never-ending competition and fight for the glory of being the first in class. It was tough. I hardly had any free time to play, and most of my days were filled up with homework.
I spent quite a few years in school, including university. I held successful jobs in a big corporation, and I traveled the world with work. And I invested a lot of money, time, and energy into studying and growing in my career.
I’ve gotten to learn a lot about history, mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics, literature, music, and foreign languages. Despite all that, there is one essential topic I would have liked the schooling system to prepare me for: how to know my own value.
So here’s what I didn’t realize at the time and what I know to be true today:
If only I knew my own worth…
I would have stopped focusing on my weaknesses, flaws, and imperfections without even being aware of my natural strengths, gifts, and talents.
I would have stopped fighting for perfection and punishing myself for every tiny mistake I might have made. I would have known that perfection was nothing but an illusion of the mind, and didn’t exist.
I would have acknowledged the hard work and efforts behind my achievements instead of attributing my accomplishments to luck or other people who gave me chances to succeed.
I would have stopped making myself small each time I achieved something good, as if “that wasn’t anything special” or “anyone else could have done it.”
I would have stopped taking myself for granted, being aware of the value I was going to bring to any of my employers with my personal set of skills and abilities. I could understand that getting paid for my knowledge was nothing but fair game. I would have found the courage to ask for a raise and negotiate my salary, and I would have never ended up underpaid.
I would have stopped comparing myself to others, and would have known that everyone is on their own journey. I could celebrate other people’s successes instead of fearing I might not earn the same amount of money or get the same amount of love. I would have understood that life doesn’t have to be a fight or an exhausting competition—that there is enough of everything and for everyone, including myself.
I would have felt at ease when praised by others, embracing compliments with grace. I wouldn’t have made myself small or put myself down as if I wasn’t worthy of such a celebration.
I wouldn’t have acted like a master of people pleasing, not daring to say no to the things I didn’t really want to do, fearing people wouldn’t like me any longer. I wouldn’t have felt like I owed anyone any apologies or any explanation for the way I was spending my time and with whom. My time means life and it’s never coming back.
I wouldn’t have expected others to make me happy, fulfill my needs, and keep my cup full of love, care, and attention. I wouldn’t have expected any man to make me feel valued, cherished, wanted, and loved, knowing that my happiness was my responsibility and every else was a bonus.
But despite all that, here’s the gain in pain, the blessing in disguise, and the real gift of my life experience:
I am convinced that we live in a smart, intelligent Universe where everything unfolds perfectly, and everything happens for a good reason.
I am not here to blame anyone for anything. I am not a victim. Society did the best it could at the time. So did my parents and my teachers. My life circumstances have nothing to do with my future, and I am the one co-creating my reality through how I think, act, and feel. It is my birthright to be happy, only because I am human. I am here to grow and learn more about life and myself.
It is never too late to step into my power and feel worthy of the best things life has to offer: good health, love, and abundance. When I value myself, others will value me as well.
Today, I know I couldn’t do my empowering work in the world from a place of authenticity and power without going through such a disempowered experience myself. There is no light without darkness.
I stopped explaining myself for what I want and for who I am. I am not afraid to step into my greatness. I am perfectly beautiful and beautifully imperfect, and this allows me to be me. I have learned how to love and approve of myself, exactly the way I am.
I have come to realize that in life, we don’t always get what we want because we only pursue what we think we deserve. That’s why it’s crucial that we believe in ourselves and see ourselves as enough and worthy of the best things life has to offer.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” ~Henry Ford
About Sara Fabian
Sara Fabian is a women’s career and empowerment coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at sarafabiancoaching.com or follow her on Facebook.
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“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” ~Eckhardt Tolle
The day I decided to leave acting felt like being exorcised from my own body.
I was twenty-nine and had been dreaming of being an actor from the time I first saw a regional production of Cats around the age of eight.
I spent the next twenty-one years with laser focus on making that dream a reality—voice lessons, dance classes, summer theater intensives, constant late night college rehearsals, and finally, top conservatory training.
Even my mother, who was initially highly uncomfortable with the idea, tossed up her hands when she saw me perform and when she witnessed my resolve.
“You have just always known,” she would say with a sideways smile. “You were meant to do this.”
Acting brought me closer to the divine. I get that now. And though it took me a while, I now say that unapologetically.
What I felt when I was onstage was nothing short of connection to the divine self, to a self I could trust to fly, to do her thing without apology, my deepest self-expression, a high-vibrating force. Perhaps that was why I was so addicted to it, why I felt I needed it to feel alive.
My actor self was a mask, a costume I wore for many years. I believed I needed it to feel seen, to be admired, to become powerful. My talent and successes were proof of my worthiness to live and to be loved. The idea of taking them off instilled mortal fear.
The day I left acting, I had just finished one of my most achingly fulfilling runs. I played a meth addict named Janelle who was struggling for sobriety and love. At the end of the show, I knew the time had come to let go. I knew it was time to move on, that I was meant for work beyond it. Though I knew, it didn’t stop me from sobbing on my bed in the fetal position.
The day I left New York City, I felt like I was being exorcised from my own body.
Silent tears streamed down my face as we drove through Brooklyn en route to Virginia. My heart railed against my rib cage and my intestines temper tantrumed in rebellion.
New York City was where I found myself as an adult, as a professional.
It was where I found my people, my tribe who believed in me, my message, who called me the “white witch.” It is where I became a business woman, developed my own programs, retreats, where I started writing, where I honed my self-expression and channeled it into impact. It is where I started to feel like an independent bad-ass, who could do anything, who could dream things into reality.
I realize now that much like acting, coaching brought me closer to divine. It took me a while to say that, but I say it unapologetically now.
There was an energy that would flow through my veins, crackling with electricity. My focus would narrow and I would feel suspended in time with another human. I didn’t “think.” Information was just there for me. I was relying on a deeper intelligence, and the kicker was that it was the same energy I felt onstage.
Perhaps that is why I became addicted to my professional roles in NYC. Part of me still believed I needed them to feel close to that divine source, to feel powerful, to be worthy of love and of being alive.
When I was left in a new city without my tribe, without that admiration, without the same roles as before, without the ability to easily look into someone’s soul, for a while, I felt lost. I questioned my worth.
The day I became a mother, I felt like I was being exorcised from my own body… quite literally.
Emotionally, I was letting go of all the child selves I had been and bidding farewell to unbridled freedom. Physically, the contraction and pain left me unable to fight, and in a strange way, left me completely open to presence.
On that day, pulling my son from between my legs and onto my chest, I felt intensely connected to the divine. In the months and years following, despite the challenges, the exhaustion, and the constant couts in my ability, I feel the connection to something larger than myself growing and growing, and when I think it can’t get bigger, it just keeps on going.
And though I’m still in my early years, I can already feel myself becoming addicted to the role of mother.
Part of me still believes I need it to feel those feelings of transcendent connection, of deep intimacy, connection with my children, of deep feminine power. I can feel how much I am already attaching, and how one day, letting go of being needed, letting my children make their own decisions, simply letting them go, will feel like being exorcised from my own body.
One day, I also know I will have to let go of the identity of a daughter, of a wife, of me.
And perhaps that is the dance of letting go of our identities, our roles, our masks and our costumes. They become second skins, and even when they become painful and frayed, we feel we need them to be safe. We feel we need them to experience love, and breaking free may always feel like we are being exorcised from our bodies.
But life never stops moving and never stops demanding our internal growth. We outgrow each phase, and each role with time. Each one eventually falls away as we become larger and more expansive.
Life never promised to keep us safe. It wasn’t designed that way.
Life, however, will continue to hand us opportunities to become who we really are, to understand ourselves on a deep level, to experience the full breadth of human emotion.
Some of these opportunities will strip us of our false selves and our superficial attachments. Others will invite us and inspire us to play bigger in our own lives. They all serve the same purpose, however, to understand love, and ourselves, with more nuance, with more wisdom.
Life hands us the masks and the costumes until we grow into them fully, then asks us to take them off.
It will hand us the closing of the show, the chapter, and the opportunities to take them off. In doing so, life gives us the option to expand who we are underneath the costumes, to get closer to the divine, the feelings of big love, transcendence and connection in a new way that we have before.
When we attach to the identity costume we are wearing in the moment, it’s like pouring cement over our deepest selves. We are missing the point of the purpose of it, and in doing so, we are refusing our own evolution. The result is that we wind up feeling limited, stuck, and chained.
The identity may be the temporary vehicle of the deeper self, but the guidance of our soul doesn’t care much about them, which is why it may whisper to us to change paths or urge us toward something surprising to us, and scary to our identities.
We always have the self underneath who is trying on the costumes, who is constantly growing bigger and more powerful (if we are listening and feeding it). We never lose it. It is our point of consciousness. It is the life energy that is neither created nor destroyed.
Perhaps the next time life confronts me with an opportunity to take off the costume, to dance naked for a while, or to put on a new coat, I can try to hand it over with a little more grace and trust.
And the truth is, I love trying on the costumes, the masks. I love dancing around in them. Some songs are dark and melancholy. Others are full of joy. Sometimes there is silence and all I can do is lie on the floor.
I recognize, however, that each coat will eventually come off, and it is the self underneath that I am left with, and she is the source of all everything; of deep feminine power, of love, of connection, of presence, of flow, of trust, of belonging. She is who I have always been.
She just needed to see herself mirrored back in all of those costumes to see truly see that.
About Beth Clayton
Beth Clayton is a TedX speaker, lifestyle coach and owner of Soul Body Life. She helps people cut the mind chatter to release from outdated belief systems and past pain so they can connect with their intuition and accelerate momentum in their lives. You can check her out at www.soulbodylife.com and get her free e-book, “The Secrets in Your Sabotage” at http://bit.ly/2rnJkWf.
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