The Art of Not Being Offended

4 Sep 2017
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It’s not all about you!

I met with a friend recently and she was quite upset about a situation she was in with another mutual friend. For ease in telling this story, I’ll call them Jane and Sue. Jane had seen Sue at the supermarket that morning and had gone to greet her but Sue brushed past her, cutting her dead.

Shocked by this behaviour Jane had spent the rest of the morning ruminating about what she could have done to offend Sue, and not being able to think of anything, she had slowly worked herself up into quite a state so by the time she met with me that afternoon, she was seething!
After she had gone, I called Sue to find out what the issue was – well, it turned out that she had had some terrible news, her beloved cat of 10 years had been run over the day before and she was devastated. She had spent a sleepless night and was really struggling to come to terms with her loss. When she had gone to the supermarket she had been in a bit of a daze understandably and hadn’t even registered seeing Jane hence she’d ‘ignored’ her.  
This got me thinking about how we can be so wrapped up in our own lives that we forget things can be happening to others that we might not know about, however close they are to us. As we go through life we automatically ‘colour’ our view with our own thoughts and experiences so when we connect with others, known or unknown, we tend to see the interaction from our own selfish point of view. But perhaps we should look up occasionally and think outside our own narrowed view, make an effort not to be offended so easily.
Had Jane stopped a moment and thought about Sue’s behaviour being strange rather than thinking it was all about her own hurt feelings, she might have gone back into that supermarket and asked if she was okay, and saved herself a whole lot of wasted time feeling cross and upset.
And Sue would most certainly have appreciated a hug from a friend at that moment of intense sadness.  
This doesn’t just apply to people you know. As a clinical hypnotherapist I get enquiries via my website and through memberships such as the Association for Solution Focused Hypnotherapy and the Hypnotherapy Directory. Some time ago I had an email enquiring about treating a specific medically diagnosed psychosomatic condition which entailed painful physical symptoms, so bad she described them as ruining her life.  
The email was very abrupt and I’m ashamed to admit I took an instant dislike to the way it was worded, it was very combative – basically did I have experience in treating the particular condition or not, and not to waste her time if I hadn’t! Now, whilst hypnotherapy can help with alleviating and coping with a range of symptoms and conditions, I had not encountered this particular condition and I sent back a brief email explaining how hypnotherapy could help her.
Rather than taking umbrage at what I perceived as poor manners, on reflection I should have seen it from her point of view: someone struggling with a condition and wanting help. She mentioned that her doctor couldn’t help her so we could deduce that she had already been through a variety of medical tests to ascertain it was psychosomatic rather than a physical condition (but with physical symptoms) so she didn’t want to be fobbed off or waste time and probably money. I didn’t hear back from her but I did learn a lot from that incident – certainly not to take everything at face value – and I believe it has made me a better therapist, teaching me to look beyond the obvious.
Communication is a two-way street and thinking a little more about what one person is saying (or doing, non-verbal is often more telling) before reacting can be invaluable.
So the next time you feel the heat of offense rising, it might be worth taking a moment to ask yourself if it’s the right reaction, could whatever you’ve taken offense at be a misinterpretation?  
Our own state of mind influences how we perceive the world and people we interact with, and being in a heightened state of anxiety, stress, trauma or dealing with painful conditions no doubt affects us and our dealings with the world at large.  
If you think you could benefit from talking with a hypnotherapist, or would like to find out more about how we can help alleviate pain and a number of other conditions do contact me on 01798 344879 or email

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