There are people who are easily offended. Sometimes it even seems that no matter what you say or do, they will always feel wronged and react accordingly, taking everything in stride and adding a good dose of drama. Obviously, this extreme sensitivity ends up affecting their relationships and produces great emotional exhaustion, leaving emotions on the surface and a bad taste in the mouth after each encounter.
The reasons why some people get offend easily
1. An extremely sensitive ego
The ego is a psychological construct that allows us to recognize ourselves as individuals and be aware of our unique identity. It is a part of our psyche that we have created to differentiate ourselves, so it includes the image we have formed of ourselves. However, some people have a very fragile ego.
When the ego is very delicate, we are more vulnerable and more likely to perceive the attitudes, words and behaviors of others as hurtful, hostile or threatening. This susceptibility comes from our insecurities, doubts and uncertainties and makes us extremely sensitive to criticism.
In those cases, being offended by everything becomes a kind of defense mechanism. The person becomes defensive to protect that fragile ego because it is difficult for them to deal with criticism or even different opinions that call into question the image they have of themselves. This leads them to react excessively because they perceive that their honor, beliefs or values are being threatened.
2. Remains of the past
Many times we drag the past into the present, so that it ends up conditioning our responses. If a person was the victim of constant criticism, ridicule, or humiliation during their childhood or adolescence, it is likely that they have become more sensitive to those situations, so that when something embarrasses them in the slightest, they feel offended.
Experiencing similar circumstances puts them in a state of maximum alert, activating an involuntary mechanism that makes them feel offended. For example, if a person jokes about the way they dress or speak and that comment reminds them of an old offense, they are likely to overreact because they feel that their pride is being attacked again or that they have been disrespectful.
In these cases, a full-fledged emotional hijacking occurs. By touching their sensitive points, these people stop reacting to the current situation and go back to the past. Emotions take over and they feel as outraged as when they were children, responding in maladaptive and even childish ways.
3. Taking things too personally
The easily offended person also tends to take things too personally. They are likely to exhibit a higher level of egocentrism that makes them believe that everything revolves around them. That way, if someone laughs, they think they’re laughing at them, and if someone makes a comment, they assumes it’s a dig directed to them.
It is also common that they misinterpret the words or attitudes of the others, assuming that there are hidden intentions. By taking things too personally, they add personal connotations to everything, which leads them to think that the world is conspiring against them. That’s why they end up feeling offended.
Added to this is that this person usually has difficulties seeing things from the point of view of the others. By entrenching himself in his egocentric posture, he does not stop to think about what the other person really wants to convey with his message, which increases the likelihood of falling into biased interpretations.
How to stop being a person who is easily offended?
Deep down, being easily offended reflects a deep insecurity. If you do not have strong self-esteem, the actions, words or attitudes of the others are likely to become a threat to you.
Ultimately, when someone doesn’t do or say what we want or expect them to do, we can feel uncomfortable and disconcerted. However, if we feel safe we can resort to our internal anchors. On the other hand, if we are insecure people, we will depend largely on external conditions to generate that confidence. But since we cannot control external circumstances, often these “anchors” only generate more insecurity, causing us to become more reactive and defensive.
The key to not being easily offended lies, therefore, in strengthening your self-esteem. In fact, a study carried out at the Universitá degli Studi Roma Tre found that having a solid self-esteem acts as a buffer, preventing you from feeling offended by everything.
When you have a balanced ego, the comments of the others will not affect your pride or generate shame, so you will not feel particularly offended by what they say or do. In fact, remember that no comment can change your life, unless you allow it. People may have positive or negative opinions about you, but that doesn’t have to influence the way you perceive yourself or the feelings you profess.
On the other hand, cultivating strong self-esteem will also help you laugh at yourself. This way you won’t take things so seriously or see personal attacks everywhere. As a result, your interpersonal relationships will improve, you will live with less drama, and your mental balance will thank you. When you let go of ballast and gain self-confidence, the world will flow better because you will realize that it does not conspire against you.
Poggi, I. & D’Errico, F. (2018) Feeling Offended: A Blow to Our Image and Our Social Relationships. Front. Psychol.; 8: 10.3389.