I am personally offended… How can they do it to me? How dare it rain on my wedding day? How dare my husband lie to me? How dare my son pee in his bed?
What drives this thought process? Is it personal pride? Wrongful Pride? Ego? Self-importance? What is it?
If Ego is not what we were told it was, then where does “personally offended” come from?
I am sitting at my computer. It’s a beautiful day, Saturday. Suddenly a I hear a car horn urging someone to do something. Then again.
I feel the corners of my mouth curve down: I am personally offended. They are honking and it bothers me. They don’t behave the way they should: shut the f… up. Respect my peace and quiet.
Yesterday a plumber did some work in the downstairs apartment. He didn’t air out the pipes and it broke the my water filter when the air and water came rushing out in bursts instead of steadily flowing water, the way it SHOULD BE.
I just finished a book, and it had a surprise at the end, something that felt like it was never properly built, like an afterthought. I didn’t see it coming. And the detective in the story neither… He says: “I don’t like to be lied to…”
He is personally offended. I am personally offended…
My intern took another job and pushed his assignment to the back burner… WTF? He was doing it TO ME…
I pull myself out of it, again, and look where this is coming from, what this is personally stuff…
On the surface it looks like my pride is hurt. It looks that my superiority is challenged. At least above the water level, looking through the limited perspective of the human mind.
Is this ego? is this what?
Let’s dive deeper, so maybe we can see something about this dynamic, the basis of most human misery, most arguments, most breakups, most firings, most child abuse, murder, and such.
I am looking at my feelings, observing them, not just feeling them… I am “bi-locating”. The natural state of a human being, by the way, to bilocate… not like there are many that can even fathom, but trust me, we were built to bilocate: it is the Original Design.
I see that there are at least two layers to this discomforting notion: it’s personal.
The first and more obvious layer is that if it is personal, then it’s a threat to our survival, it slights us and takes the wind out of our sail, so to say.
I people, god, nature can and allowed to do it to us, then we are not as powerful as we hoped we were, and our success, happiness, health, survival is not in our hands. Then we are peons, happenstance, and the losers in this game called Life.
Very troubling. So we do the best we can in that disadvantaged position: we protest. You protest. You bristle your feathers to look bigger than you are. To look threatening by looking bigger, by not allowing to be viewed as weak, a weakling, free to kill, free to slight, free to rob, free to kill.
This is a very important point to get: it is a natural reaction if the context you live in is that there is such a thing as fair, that life is supposed to be fair, that things are personal.
But if you, for a moment, consider that nothing is personal. It is like a rain storm: it is not personal and you get wet.
If you consider that you are part of a species with the least amount of chance to control anything, really, then you see that trying to pretend to be in control can cause you to have even less power to get ahead, and live a life where you have an experience of being alive, being well, being in the flow.
Taking things personally, as if they were, takes you out of the flow of life, and strands you in self-righteous indignation… stranded, stuck in your misery… not correctly interacting with life, missing it, and thus going down the drain.
We are all circling the drain, all of humanity, all the time. We are vulnerable. We are weak. All the stuff we have invented won’t save us from “Celestial Events” like comets, or volcanoes turning the Planet into no-life zone for decades or centuries. It has happened and it will happen again.
Life is vulnerable, and that is just how it is.
But YOU want it to be predictable, you want it to move upward, and you with it.
Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
This is the first layer…
The layer right underneath it is an even more intimate look into the human psyche: it is called “the age of the thinking, the age of the behavior”.
When we are little children we have an illusion of safety. We don’t know about the big bad world… until we find out about it, at a different age, through an event that suddenly shatters that safety.
Some 15 years ago I lived in a rented house in New Jersey. There was a shed and a garage in the backyard. A stray cat gave birth to kittens there, and then one day it disappeared. I watched when she brought the kittens out to the yard the first time: tiny cream color balls… but then the mother disappeared, probably got killed.
The kittens were hungry and they came out, played, tried to climb the pear tree… They didn’t know about me and that maybe I could feed them.
I already had two cats, I didn’t want more. Two of the kitties got run over by cars, and the third, the runt of the litter was now alone.
I had a neighbor that said maybe her son would take the kitten, so I decided to tame her to be adoptable… I put down food for her in the garage… She didn’t show for weeks, but I could watch her from my window, and saw how playful she was. I drew her out using a long stalk of grass… teasing her.
The son didn’t take her, and I was stuck with her, but by that time I was in love.
The kitty never learned about danger. She still didn’t know that there were dangers lurking in bigger cats, cars, people… I had the kitty for another two years, and then I gave her up for adoption: I moved to New York and could not take three cats.
Why am I sharing this story? Because life wants you to be both fearless and undauntable. Life wants you to know about the dangers, but not take it personally, like the kitty, I called Pinky because of her pink nose.
But what happens to most of us is that something happens in our lives early on, and from that point we look at everything as personal.
- Your father has an argument with your mother, and leaves, banging the front door shut behind himself.
- Your father punishes your little sister and banishes her from home.
- Your father finds out that instead of taking a nap you are out to play with the other kids… and yells at you and drags you back into the house.
- Your mother finds you covered with her lipstick is mortified that maybe you hurt yourself.
- Your mother is in a hurry and decides that instead of dragging you, she will just leave you home…
- Your uncle molests you and your mother decides that she can’t protect you without getting killed by your mob uncle…
These are actually real things happened to real people.
Your behavior gets stuck at the behavior and thinking of the age where this incident happened.
My first incident happened before I could speak… I was stuck at that age forever, never being able to verbally protest, argue. I never behaved as an adult in a situation where I was slighted… and to tell you the truth, I still haven’t learned to consistently behave like an adult in situations like that. Often I just give up and lick my wounds. Other times I have to go through the stages of young, less young, older, and adult, to dig myself out from certain misery and certain losses. It is always going to be my Achilles Heel, my weak point, defending myself and my interests.
A friend of mine started to stutter… and when it comes to controversy or confrontation, he immediately leaves the conversation…
You are stuck in a behavior of “It’s not fair” or “I am personally offended” or “they are doing it to me” etc.
It is hard to know it, but now that you know how it works, you will feel the tug of the “machine” that makes you behave and feel like a little child.
Growing yourself up in every area and every aspect of life is not easy, and it’s not instant. It takes expert work, and a thorough understanding, a thorough grasp at the different ages and their behaviors and unique perspectives.
This is the kind of work I normally do in private sessions, though it can be started on the group calls and then taken private at some point.
It’s not an exact science, it is not painting by numbers. It is an art to find the age, the exact thought process, the exact steps it takes to break the spell and allow a person to become an adult in every area of their lives.
It’s an amazing journey. The people who have gone through this process are seldom willing to share… For some reason “REAL” work is hard to share: the fear of being found out, the fear of exposing oneself keeps people from volunteering to share. And even when they do, they ask it to be private, even if nothing in their journey could lead to them being recognized.
So you have only my word that it works.
PS: I am starting to hear another layer: in common language we demand respect, and complain that we get none… and what we mean by respect is that the other person should not say or do anything that we could even consider responding with “I am personally offended…” lol, that was a great catch.
I have been wondering, for decades, what people mean by respect, instead of meaning what the word really means…
PPS: If you want to practice recognizing this “I am personally offended”, please put examples in the comments below…
here is one of MY examples: do you think I am stupid?!
The feeling that accompanies this statement is horrible, by the way…