Taking other people’s words and actions as an offense is distressing.
What’s even more upsetting is to be in a situation in which you don’t know whether you’re directly attacked or not. Either way, I’ve come to notice that it’s either about us, about other people, or both.
On the surface, it appears that the affronting issue is connected to a particular outward situation. The truth is, it has to do more with our minds and psychological upbringing.
How can we mindfully differentiate between our own issues and others’ without blaming, judging, victimizing ourselves, or brushing the obstacle under the rug?
Oftentimes, when people shame us, they unconsciously act out shame they feel themselves. The same applies to us: sometimes when we judge or offend others, we’re indirectly translating our own insecurities through them.
When attacked, it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts. However, we must understand that people who shame others might have unresolved issues of their own. The most compassionate thing we can do is grasp the reasons behind their words and actions.
People project their own issues onto us without knowing it. Perhaps, they’re not good communicators, and they don’t know how to mindfully convey their thoughts. That said, put yourself in their shoes so you can reply or react back with love and awareness rather than anger and hatred.
What is our typical reaction to other people’s words and actions? Do we take them personally or feel attacked? How we react to other people’s words or actions speaks a lot about ourselves and the subconscious issues we carry. If the words of others push our buttons, we might want to reflect on the following:
1. Considering our own unresolved issues.
If another person’s actions or words irritate us, there might be something related to the topic or the action that we need to work on. Admitting that we have issues can be tough, but it’s liberating to work through them. The thing is, we all have unhealthy habits and traits stemming from our childhood, upbringing, and environment. Those issues become a burden when we can’t even detect them or don’t know how to solve them.
The good news is that our issues are triggered through our relationship with other people. When you take something personally, pause for a moment and try to look at what’s underneath the reaction. Sit with the uncomfortable feelings you get when others’ words agitate you, and ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way?” Don’t victimize yourself; rather, separate yourself from your reaction. We must always observe what offends us in a non-judgmental way, because it highlights our deepest insecurities, and allows us to notice without reacting in a habitual way.
2. We haven’t yet worked on loving ourselves fully.
When we have worked on healing and loving ourselves for who we are, the actions and words of others won’t affect us as much. If people attack us verbally or accuse us of things that we didn’t do, we know it’s only their opinion of us and not who we truly are. And if their shaming rings true, we deal with it mindfully without blaming the other or victimizing ourselves.
Also, when we love ourselves and respect our emotional constitution, we don’t take life too seriously. The ability to add humor in one’s life is miraculous. Lighten up a little. Even if you get offended, don’t let the offense trouble you. Laugh at the situation because humor is a magnificent remedy. The offense is not the problem—the problem is how we perceive it.
3. We’re attached to our sense of self.
As the Buddha taught, we are attached to our sense of self—the idea of “me” or “I.” When we are identified with our ego, we’re creating a false identity. Upon creating the “I,” we automatically create a “you” and, thus, live in duality. Then, the “me” starts reacting to the “you,” and we feel as if we’re the center of everything.
Know that what you are defending doesn’t have a coherent, substantial existence. Applying what the Buddha taught about the self can help us relax around certain situations instead of strongly identifying with them. Even when we respond, we can respond consciously and not from a place of egocentricity. Responses that come from awareness are healthier than responses that come from the defensive or attacked “me.”
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Instagram/Elyane Youssef
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton