How often do you hear the words sensitive and offended used in the same breath? It’s one of my real bugbears because it highlights a problem with the term highly sensitive people.
Now more than ever we are surrounded by highly offend-able people. We love taking offence to stuff and sharing our self-righteous indignation online. Public shaming for ill-considered social media updates, and Twitter trending of an unknown person who said something vulgar.
Often it is offend-able people that are called ‘too sensitive’ or ‘snowflakes’ (urgh that word). But highly sensitive people are NOT highly offend-able people, au contraire.
In this episode I explore why I believe that. And why I think if we’re going to turn this out of control juggernaut of violent language and name calling around, then we need to stop taking offence in the way we do.
- By actively taking offence and responding in kind you become involved in the cycle and strengthen the object of offence.
- It is usually ‘allies’ that suffer most because they become fearful of saying the wrong thing and being cast out.
- We are in danger of demanding unattainable perfection by saying ‘yeah but…’ every time a person or organisation does something positive.
- A highly offend-able society runs the risk of shutting down the good voices.
- Being easily offended leads to a reactive and defensive culture, rather than a positive transformative culture – conversations are defined by what you are against rather than what you are for (it’s safer)
- You don’t have to channel offence in the current normal ways – be self-aware, have perspective, and empathy: learn HOW to ignore provocateurs in the most appropriate ways; don’t indulge them (or your own fascination with them).
- Turn off the voices that make you angry (stop exposing yourself to stuff – ahem YouTube comments I’m looking in your direction – that doesn’t make you feel good about life, and doesn’t make you feel good about other people or yourself).
- Learn how to process offensive, harmful, and hurtful language without responding in kind – identify when it’s speaking to you because it is actually something that hits home in a potentially helpful way.
- Stop sharing offensive voices – if you find something offensive STOP SHARING IT. By sharing it you strengthen it, simple as. I’ve learned about many figures because of Twitter trending. Huge platforms have been built because of enemy support. It’s absurd and ironic. But quite understandable why it happens as well.
- Be open to being wrong about stuff. Very few of us set out to offend people but most of us will offend at times in our life, it’s just a part of being human. Admit that and it makes it a lot easier to hold less tightly to the mistakes and foibles of our fellow peoples.
- Stop taking everything personally and focus on what you can do to make the world better, rather than how you can shut down other people.
- Don’t be defined by what you’re not, be someone who actually IS something. That’s the starting point for truly making the world a bit better.
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