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We have all been offended at some point in our lives. And whether the person knows they offended you or had no idea, it probably ruined the relationship.

When you feel doubt and disappointment in someone, it’s impossible to see past the situation. You never resolve things and still feel the pain from yesterday.

But refusing to let go only tarnishes your future. You can’t feel kindness from others or find new opportunities. Learning not to be offended is the highest form of freedom to yourself. You choose what controls you.

In this episode, you’ll discover the freedom of not getting offended (and how to move through your past).

Show Highlights Include:

  • How to soothe your sensitive spirit and bring peace to your relationships (even when you feel like exploding into anger). (0:52)
  • The two emotions blocking you from having healthy conversations and healing pain. (2:00)
  • Using John the Baptist to heal from offensive situations and move past grudges to make yourself and other happier. (5:26)
  • Why you can lose anger and release the resentment (without being offended again).  (8:30)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thanks so much for listening today. What's your response when someone offends you? This episode offers a few thoughts on a more healthy and, hopefully, more productive way to respond When we're offended.

Friends, if you're breathing, it's highly probable you'll be offended by something or somebody this very day. The critical question is how do you process and respond to that which offends? President Abraham Lincoln once said, “We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” Yet, for many of us, we're are neither too noble nor big enough to handle being offended. [0 1:06.7]

An online post titled, Meant to Be Happy, offered readers a test. The test was titled, “Are you easily offended?” I want you to respond in your own way to the following questions.

Do you explode in fits of anger are over little things?

Do others say you make mountains out of molehills?

Do you frequently take things the wrong way?

Do others feel they have to “walk on eggshells” around you?

Do others consider you “high maintenance”?

Now, if you've answered most of these questions in the affirmative, being overly sensitive, something psychologists call “hypersensitivity”, may be robbing you from happiness and peace and joy.
Experts list several reasons why we're easily offended. Here are a few of the most common. [02:01.4]

First: unreal to expectations. We think everyone should always be nice and we're not used to being criticized. This often comes from having parents and other relatives who try to cushion every critical moment to keep a child's self-esteem high. Unfortunately, these children and grow up to be people without resources to manage criticism.

Second: insecurity. This is another reason we're easily offended. People who feel insecure often have been invalidated. That's very important. They've learned that others will not respond to their needs and helpful ways. They typically have not learned how to get their needs met assertively and often respond in a passive-aggressive manner. They're easily offended, and it's a way to acknowledge their pain and to seek validation of their experience. They start thinking that people are not there for them or that people are simply taking advantage of them. [03:07.0]

Perhaps the most common reason we're offended is pain. Experts say that many people who get easily offended have gone through a trauma, abandonment, even negligence. This is the reason they become emotionally isolated. According to an October 2021 post in Psychology Today, past pains and undealt-with trauma affects reactions to the present.

For example, something in the past traumatized. Just thinking about it brings it back to life. Emotions are raw. They become intense. Worrisome thoughts over what occurred arise and it becomes clear that we never fully resolved things. The very nature of trauma is to negatively sensitize us to anything in the present that unconsciously reminds us of something in the past. [04:03.3]

It could be something that deeply affected you, maybe scarred you, perhaps terrified you or shamed you. Having been victimized earlier by something over which you had no control forces one to be hypervigilant, hypersensitive. Next thing you know, you spend years in pain wondering why you simply can't move on, why you can't let go of the pain. Psychologists tell us that holding onto an offense, not only produces resentment, but it helps people feel empowered. Isn't that interesting?

Psychology Today noted that such people are passive-aggressive because they don't know how to deal with the emotional pain. They don't even know how to have an emotionally-healthy conversation with other people. Being passive-aggressive is a form of power that they want to maintain that in a particular relationship simply because they don't know how to express themselves. [05:05.4]

Isn't that interesting? Holding on to an offense is a way that people actually feel empowered, simply because they don't know how to have a healthy conversation with someone else.

I recently conducted a memorial service for a dear friend. I mentioned that one of his greatest qualities was that he was rarely offended and that he would never, ever allow himself to hold a grudge. It has been said that the true measure of a person, the true measure of a man or a woman is not in the intelligence or education level. It's not status or title or position. The true measure of a person is how quickly they respond to the needs of others, how willing they are to serve others, and how true they are to friends and how quickly they forgive those who oppose them. [06:00.5]

I believe that the true measure of a person, this foundation just outlined, is really the template for healthy emotions, so the critical question becomes, how do we get there? How do we get to that point? The internet is flooded with self-help lists, step-by-step ways for us not to be offended. There are a series of steps from not taking the offense personally to determining what we can learn from being offended to taking ownership over our emotions.

I've tried these steps, friends. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. Let me tell you something, thinking about something that happened to me recently, nothing seemed to work. This occurred over the holidays. A relative offended me. We were celebrating in my family a major milestone and one family member wasn't as celebratory as I thought.

I know that we get offended when we place unreal expectations upon other people, and when they refuse to meet those expectations, we tend to get hurt. Friends, that's exactly what happened to me. Huh, I was mad and I refused to let it go. It ate at me on the inside. Does anybody understand what I'm talking about? [07:15.8]

Then something unexpected happened. I was sharing a story in a sermon that followed the offense and what I shared literally stopped me in my tracks. This great example I'm about to give you from the story is from Holy Scripture, and even though some of you listening may not share the same beliefs, there's a power principle here. I want you to catch it.

In a New Testament book of St. Matthew, Jesus is healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind, and preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God. Meanwhile, not too far away sits John the Baptist in a dungeon. You remember John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ who prophesied the coming of the Messiah. Please also note that Jesus and John are cousins. [08:06.4]

John the Baptist is in jail because he called out King Herod. In biblical days, you didn't call a king out. If you did, you'd be punished. John the Baptist’s punishment? Dungeon and death. As John sits in the dungeon hours away from being beheaded, he begins to wonder and then he doubts. Friends, disappointment will always cause you to doubt.

John would ask a few of his followers, Hey, go find Jesus. Ask Jesus, is he really the Messiah or should we keep looking for the real Messiah? Translation? Hey, Jesus, if you are really the Messiah, you would have gotten me out of this mess. You would have gotten me out of this situation. Jesus, your blood, you’re my kinfolk and you haven't even come to visit me. [09:00.0]

John the Baptist is severely offended and I get it. In fact, I appreciate the humanity of John the Baptist. John's men go to Jesus and deliver Him a message. When they showed up and when they delivered Jesus this message from John the Baptist, they discovered Jesus was busy preaching, busy healing, busy transforming lives. Jesus turns to John's men and He says this. “Go back and tell John what you've witnessed.” In other words, John, is there any question that I'm the Messiah?

As the men walk away, then Jesus focuses on the crowd that have all watched this scene and Jesus says these words. “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” Oh my. Friends, that hit me like a ton of bricks. [09:59.7]

Listen to this. Jesus was likely highly insulted, which you would have never known. He had just been ridiculed by another preacher, not just any preacher, but a family member, his cousin. I want you to note very well that nowhere in this passage in Matthew 11 do you see Jesus angry, do you see him mad. Nowhere in this passage do you see Jesus holding a grudge. Nowhere in this passage do you see Jesus becoming resentful. He simply turns to the crowd and says, “Of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist.” Friends, it hit me. It hit me.

Jesus turned an obvious opportunity to be offended into an opportunity to uplift, to praise, to encourage, to bless. As a result for Jesus, no loss of peace, no loss of happiness, no loss of sleep. His heart wasn't holding resentment. His soul was not in turmoil. He moved on principle. [11:08.4]

Whenever you have the opportunity, return an insult with kindness. Oh, I think I need to say that one again. Whenever you get a chance, do everything you can to return and insult with kindness. You see, friends, it stopped me in my tracks because I realize I was the problem. Uh-oh. I had empowered myself to be offended. I can't control somebody else's response. Whether they want to celebrate or not is really out of my control.
The person who offended me was not even the issue. In fact, I doubt to this very day that they even knew that they offended me. Here's the point. I chose to be offended. I chose to allow my disappointment to fester into resentment and I chose to hold onto it. [12:02.7]

Back to the relative who offended me. Now I'm offended. I'm holding onto this resentment. Every time I bring it to mind, I get mad. I'm filled with anger. I'm probably saying things that I shouldn't say and thinking things that I shouldn't think. Do you all know what I'm talking about?

Now I go into this sermon, and when I finish this sermon, I have a stark contrast in the model between my behavior and the behavior that Jesus modeled in Matthew 11. Here's the bottom line: Jesus took an action. He chose not to react to the criticism. He chose not to wallow in anger.

You know what? By this point I was sick and tired of being angry. I was tired of being mad. So, this is what I decided to do. I believe in the power of speech. I haven't only been educated in the power of speech, but I have attempted to practice the power of speech now for 40 years professionally. I know a thing or two about the power of speech. [13:09.0]

I know that I can talk myself into having a good day. I also know I can talk myself into having a bad day. Guess what I did. I talked myself out of being offended by saying things like, You know what? I seriously doubt that that person even knew that they had offended me, and regardless of whether they did or not, why should I impose my expectations of their behavior upon them? Why should I do that? That's just flat-out wrong. I believed that if I could talk my way into being offended, why couldn't the opposite be true?

I realized that I had empowered myself to be offended, so now I'm going to empower myself to let it go, regain perspective, lose the anger, release the resentment, and move on. I can't control someone else's response. I can control me, though. The person who offended me is not the issue. I really doubt that they even knew that they were being offensive to me. [14:12.5]

The point is this. I chose to be offensive or, I should say, I chose to be offended. I chose to allow my disappointment to fester into resentment. I chose to hold onto it, but Jesus had shown me an alternative. You know what? Here's the bottom line, friends. It is very human to be offended, but it's divine to not live in that offense. Oh, baby.

Admittedly, I'm not quite there yet, but I'm working on it case by case and I'm getting better, and trust me, I will have lots of opportunities to practice because someday, every day, I can guarantee this, there's going to be something or someone who is going to offend me. [15:07.1]

So, I'm grateful for the practice fields, thankful for the opportunity, and just attempting to remind myself every day, don't talk yourself into being offended. Empower yourself not to be. Then I try to remind myself it's human to be offended, but it's divine to not live in that. Friends, I want you to think about that one for a few days. It's a challenge. I trust that you've been encouraged that, in some way, this may have helped.
That's going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick, asking the most important question I can ask, how ya livin’? [15:50.7]

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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