I worry sometimes about offending and upsetting people. I always have. In fact this worry has at times been the bane of my life.
I used to be very concerned about not bothering people, to the point where I would make my life very complicated for myself by going out of my way not to get in someone else’s way. Yet I always seemed to fail.
I used to think this was because my very existence annoyed people. Somehow the fact that someone like me was alive and stealing space, resources, and air from others who were apparently more deserving of such things was an insult.
My options for solving this problem were very limited. I could either remove myself from this world or stop worrying about what others thought, or what I thought they thought based on how I perceived their attitude, speech and actions towards me.
I opted for the latter after having been on the brink of choosing the former.
As I stood on the edge of self annihilation, it occurred to me that killing myself would probably upset and offend some people, thus even in death I would be a cause of annoyance as much as I was in life. On top of that, my death would be used by certain people to upset others, and I would be hurting others long after I was gone. There just seemed to be no way of avoiding upsetting and offending. So I decided to stay and perhaps have some modicum of control over the matter.
It took a while for me to realise that you just can’t control the effect which you have on others, because that is entirely under the control of others. Sure, there are moments when you can manipulate certain aspects of how others perceive you, and you can push some buttons and not push others, but ultimately those whom you manipulate are allowing you to do so, perhaps subconsciously, but it is still their choice.
Trying to navigate the treacherous waters known as other people’s feelings can be exhausting and exasperating.
I seem to attract overly sensitive people… or maybe I just see most people as being overly sensitive. The overly sensitive tend to advertise their sensitivity very loudly in flashing neon lights. To that they often add the very onerous duty of caring deeply about all other living things and this caring hurts them, yet they are mainly concerned about one living thing and that is themselves, and they hurt themselves all the time with their concept of caring for others. They are usually so wrapped up in taking everything very personally and being hurt by it, that they have no time to reflect on how their behaviour and sensitivity affects and hurts their relationships with others. You can’t point that out to them, because they’ll get hurt. In fact you really can’t communicate anything to them because everything hurts them, and once they are hurt, which is all the time by everything, they then demand endless amends which never quite make a whole amends. They tend to hold grudges too, reminding you constantly of how hurt they have been, still are, and may always be.
Since overly sensitive people tend to be completely insensitive to others, you get constantly crushed, trampled, and overwhelmed by the weightiness of their giant emotional turmoil. It is too big for them to carry on their own, but rather than lighten their load by doing some self perception exercises and emotional responsibility accounting, they hire minions to help them lug the weight around. If a minion dies, usually from neglect and the hardship of self sacrifice to another beings needs over their own, they wail at the injustice of such a thing, how could someone be so selfish and leave them when they needed them, then they move on as their wailing usually attracts a new and probably improved minion.
Every time I get sucked into the dramas created by overly sensitive people, I curse my foolish self for not learning the lesson that certain people should be avoided because I am allergic to them.
The problem I have is that I figure that if my existence hurts, upsets and offends someone so much, that they would just go away, ignore me, and spare themselves the pain caused to them by the relationship. Why don’t they avoid me? There are other people besides me in this world, so why do they inflict me on themselves? It just doesn’t make sense. I’m easy to avoid. It would be easy for me to avoid them too if they didn’t keep coming back for more of the pain I seem to cause them by just being myself.
I have to admit that the internet has helped greatly to cure me of quite a few ailments of the self, and to help me reach some understanding of this problem. Browsing through blogs, websites and news sites, I have come to realise that people actually seem to relish being offended and upset. In fact a couple of years ago I read an article about this very subject wherein the author asked readers to name their favourite places on the internet where they go when they want to get annoyed, riled up, offended by someone’s view, belief, and opinion enough to rant in the comments section, and upset by a story that it helps them to purge their own perhaps suppressed feelings. This was truly an eye-opener to me! People deliberately go out of their way to get upset and offended! They actually like the feeling!
Of course this had occurred to me before. I had noticed that certain people I knew liked drama, and went to great lengths to create it when it wasn’t there. I also noticed that some people revelled in the pain of being hurt all the time. They wore their hurt as a badge of martyrdom, and every time a wound healed they picked the scab and made it bleed again. And there were some people who only seemed to have energy when they were angry at someone or something. That blame kept them sane. Outrage kept them feeling good about themselves. Yet…
Yet still I harboured the illusion that people did not really enjoy these things and preferred to be happy, calm and in the company of pleasure. My mind just could not quite grasp the fact that people would actually prefer being unhappy, stressed out and deliberately hang out with pain. It just seemed illogical to me. But…
But slowly it has begun to make sense. It will however never be logical. And I have a long way to go before I understand how this knowledge affects my experience of life and my relationships with others. I think it helps to simplify my life, by making care a little less, by making me careless.
I was thinking about my foray into social media. I have been dipping in and out of it for a couple of years… so I am still very new to it. There are parts of it which I love and parts which don’t agree with me at all and give me indigestion, luckily things can be avoided. And that brings me to why I am writing this post.
It occurred to me that someone could read something which I have written and be hurt, upset and offended by it. I have only had a couple of awkward moments, on Twitter, mainly due to misunderstandings, and these were very brief. I have found that social media is predominantly very tolerant, open to all, and although people express strong opinions which are at times very judgmental, there is the freedom to do that and that is very liberating. I tend to shy away from the more inflammatory topics. I don’t feel the need to express my views on politics, religion or sex. I don’t think my views would bother too many, but there are those who seek such things out just to vent and rant and impose their own views. I prefer to avoid such things as…
“A Man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Mostly I don’t think about this because I figure people are intelligent enough to dismiss what doesn’t appeal to them… unless they are actively seeking something which will definitely not appeal to them. Besides which, my audience although very big to me is quite small by social media standards, and those who are attracted to my voice I think may be similar to me in some ways, so there is a communion of minds of sorts. And if I dwell on the idea that I may upset or offend someone by expressing myself, then I might go silent again, and this would hurt and offend me. I am getting much more adept at putting myself first, but I don’t want to become oblivious to others. It’s a balancing act, and at the moment I try to keep the scales tipped in my favour to rebalance the years I spent with it tipped the other way.
So how do you offend and upset in one easy step? Be yourself.
Or don’t be yourself.
Either way someone will always find a reason why you offend and upset them.
That is being human.
Yet very simple.
What do you think?