How to Stop Feeling Offended

Do you remember the last time someone offended you? What did you do? How did you respond?

If you’re like most people your heart started to beat faster and your face started turning red. You began to get defensive and you quit listening all while growing angrier.

When things start to boil over you’ll respond in a way that won’t help you or the situation. You’re guaranteed to do something you’ll regret later on.

How quickly you reach the boiling point depends on how offensive it was and how much self control you have.

Offensiveness – Self-Control = Boiling Over

Boiling over for some of us will look like yelling, arguing, and “Who do you think you are?” For others of us we’ll shut down and try to get out of the awkward situation as quickly as possible, boiling over into bitterness and revenge.

What if there was a way to never get to the boiling point in the first place?

As a pastor, I have lots of opportunities to be offended because people seem to have an “opinion” on everything. Some people feel that they are doing me a dis-service by not sharing that opinion.

But this doesn’t just happen to pastors. I’m sure in your profession people feel entitled to share their opinion with you too. Even preparing dinner for your family is an opportunity to be offended…“This again!” “Ewww!” “I hate peas.” “Do I have to eat this?”


The Compounding Effect

Over time these “opinions” (which really sound a lot like complaining) can start to add up. It begins to build up so that you aren’t really responding to just one person’s comment about dinner, but to the last one hundred from your family. When it stays bottled up eventually it will come boiling over.

The Echo Effect

You probably hear the same complaints about the same things. In every industry you have certain things people seem to always complain about. You may have heard this “opinion” a thousand times but to the person sharing it’s their first time. It’s also the first time you’ve had a chance to respond to them.

If you’re not careful you can respond from a place of callousness or bitterness. Which of course leaves people thinking, “What’s their problem? All I said was…” The opinionated person doesn’t realize you’ve heard this a thousand times and you’re tired of responding to it.

The positive side is if you keep hearing the same opinions you can formulate a thoughtful response. You can create a template and train your team with the correct response.

The Caring Effect

The more you care about something the more easily it is to get offended. You put a lot of effort into that meal! You built your company or market. They are talking about your kids!

The more blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into something the more sensitive you will be towards someone’s opinion about it. If you aren’t careful you’ll dismiss their opinion too easily, “What do they know?”


How do we keep from boiling over when someone’s opinion is something we’ve heard a thousand times (Compounding Effect), about the same thing (Echo Effect), and about something we are deeply committed to and invested in (Caring Effect)?

Is there another way besides blowing up or growing bitter?

There is and here it is…

You alone decide whether or not to feel offended. If you choose not to be offended you will make better decisions. You will keep the power instead of giving it to someone else.

Let me unpack this for you.

You alone decide whether or not to feel offended. You always have a choice and it’s easy to forget that. Between the stimulus and your response you always have a choice. We get to choose how we will respond to the stimulus of their opinion. What you choose determines how the rest of the exchange will unfold.

I’m not saying what they said wasn’t offensive. I’m saying you get to choose whether you feel offended. You don’t have to be offended. You have a choice.

If you choose to feel offended the situation is now governed by your emotions instead of your mind. We all know what type of decisions we make when we let our emotions get behind the wheel of our life.

If you choose not to be offended you will make better decisions. Remember it’s just their opinion. No matter what they say it’s not “everyone’s” opinion. When you keep your emotions out of the driver’s seat you can think clearly. You remove yourself from the situation and begin to listen objectively. Your response will be measured and appropriate instead of coming from a place of hurt and anger.

Much of life is how we respond to it. We don’t get to choose so many things that come our way or happen to us. But we can always choose how we respond.

In that moment you are choosing by your response whether you will keep a customer, a partner, a friend or whether you’ll lose them.

You keep the power instead of giving it to someone else. You remain in control of yourself and the conversation. You don’t have to get on the emotional roller coaster. You don’t have to say something you’ll regret and can’t take back.

One thing that helps me is I choose to believe that the person doesn’t realize they are being offensive. They might be acting selfish or entitled, but there’s a good chance they don’t see it.

If you believe they are deliberately trying to be offensive it will shade the entire way you handle the conversation. If you believe they are a constant complainer or that they are trying to cause trouble you’ll be looking for reasons to be offended instead of trying to find a solution.


The only way to never be offended is…don’t stay in one place or in one relationship too long.

On the other hand if you long for roots, history, and deep friendships you are going to feel offended at some point and more than once.

If you choose to run away you’ll become bitter, untrusting, and eventually…end up alone.
If you choose to go nuclear and set them straight you’ll eventually…end up alone.

Not everyone has the same level of emotional intelligence as you do. Give them some grace.
Not every opinion is meant as a personal attack. Work on your narcissism.

Life is short. It takes a long time to develop friendships and business relationships. They will be so much richer if you choose not to be offended. It’s a hallmark of mature adulting.

You alone decide whether or not to feel offended. If you choose not to be offended you will make better decisions. You will keep the power instead of giving it to someone else.