This was first published on KSL.com
Every January for the past six years, I have recommended one New Year’s resolution you could make that would make the biggest difference in your life. You can read all my past New Year’s KSL articles here. This year, I recommend you resolve to get offended less.
The truth is, very few of the things you let bother you are worth the energy you spend on them. Most of your aggravation, disappointment, annoyance, and even anger about situations or other people, is self-inflicted suffering that could easily be put down.
As a matter of fact, every situation in your life is 10 percent the issue and 90 percent how you are looking at it. Your perception or the way you see it creates the story and how you feel. The problem is, your thoughts, feelings, stories and projected reactions are often not accurate. These perceptions are the result of your subconscious policies and procedures, most of which you created as a small child. I have written an entire book on recognizing your subconscious fear triggers and how to get free of them because it’s a little involved for an article. But here are six simple things you can do to get offended less often, lessen your misery and increase your joy this year:
1) Be 100% responsible for your thinking and how you feel about every situation. No one can make you upset, mad, offended or feel hurt without your permission. They are not that powerful. You have complete control over only one thing in your life: how you choose to think and behave. (Though most of us don’t claim this power and instead we give others permission to determine our happiness.) It is time to claim control and stop giving other people the power to determine your self-esteem, make you feel unsafe in the world, or take away your joy. Instead, let offensive statements or actions roll off. Ask yourself, “Is this worth giving away my joy for?" If it is that important, decide how much time is reasonable to feel bad for. When is enough misery, enough? It’s part of the human experience to feel negative emotions, but don’t live there. Give yourself five minutes for an angry rant or pity party, then choose to let it go and claim your peace and joy back.
2) Recognize when fear of loss has been triggered. This happens when you feel taken from, robbed or mistreated. In these situations, you can experience fear of loss. Remember, you are choosing to see the universe as against you and the world as unsafe. It is this belief that is causing your misery. You could choose, instead, to see the universe as always serving you, and this experience as your perfect lesson. If this experience is serving you, it isn’t a loss. Let the angst go and choose to feel taken care of, watched over, and safe in the world because the universe only creates experiences you need.
3) Let more small stuff go. Ask yourself “Will this matter to me in 10 years?" If it’s a yes, then again, decide if there is anything you can do about it. If there is, take action. If there isn’t, (because you can’t control other people), choose to trust the universe to take care of you. Living in trust that the universe is on your side and is always conspiring to serve you, is a perspective that creates more joy. Ask yourself again, “Is this worth giving away my joy and peace for?” Choose your battles and only suffer over really important things and limit the suffering shelf life on those.
4) Don't take things personally. The truth is, most of the time when someone attacks, offends or insults you, it’s really not about you. It’s about their fears for and about themselves. These people came into these situations with fears of failure or loss in play and then they projected those fears onto you. For example, a person who never felt important or cared about as a child may have a subconscious tendency to experience not being cared about everywhere they look. This means they might project that experience onto you, and they may honestly believe you don’t care about them. This might make them angry and attack you, but it doesn’t make sense to be offended. Instead, have firm but compassionate boundaries and don’t allow abuse. Look at their feedback and see if you can learn anything. Then, don’t take offense and let them hurt you. Recognize bad behavior means this person is having a fear problem that is probably more about them. You can offer them some reassurance or validation, but it’s not your job, (nor is it possible for you,) to fix the underlying problem. That is work they get to do.
5) Be quicker to forgive and forget. Holding onto past offenses hurts you more than it hurts the other person. When you get offended make a decision right then and there how long it makes sense to suffer over this. In "The Art of Living," as taught by S.N. Goenka, we learn Buddha taught the very instant you are offended, you must choose what kind of cut this offense will be. It’s either a cut through water that is gone immediately, a cut through sand that is gone tomorrow, or a cut through rock that will be there for decades. How long do you want to suffer?
6) Have good, peaceful, but firm boundaries. Boundaries should be rules you make to protect you from letting other people take advantage of you. Decide what behaviors you will allow, what you will let roll off, and what behavior is not tolerable. If someone treats you in an intolerable way, choose to walk away from that behavior with love and compassion. There may even be some people you have to love from afar. You must learn how to be both strong and loving at the same time, so you can balance protecting yourself with showing up for others. Both are needed to be healthy. Seek some professional help to learn how to enforce boundaries properly if needed.
Getting offended less, letting more small stuff go and not taking things personally will create a happier, more balanced 2019.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a poplar speaker, author and life coach. She owns www.claritypointcoaching,com and has a worksheet designed to help people process offenses easily at https://www.claritypointcoaching.com/worksheetsdownloads
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.