Why People Offend Us: Spoiler, They Don't
The key point about being offended: it’s exclusively a function of your inner world and has nothing to do with the person offending you.
People say and do infinitely many things, but only some individuals will find each of those things offensive. The issue isn’t the offender, the issue is the offended.
For example, we both come from a background of disordered eating and body dysmorphia that leads us to take offense to being called fat. Even when we know that we are not fat, it still digs into us because of our historical insecurities around body composition. That’s our issue; it’s internal. There are countless people who get called fat and simply do not care because they don’t have the same associations to the word as we do.
As another example, being called skinny is a compliment for Briana but an insult for Alex because of perceptions around the word. Alex prefers being called lean. Again, this is entirely an internal issue with Alex rather than being an issue of the offender (Briana) when the word is used.
On the flip side, Briana takes offense to being called dumb because she has gone through her entire life fighting the dumb-blonde stereotype. Yet, Alex doesn’t find being called dumb offensive because he’s never had insecurities around his intellect.
Again, being offended is an internal issue. It’s a place for you to dig in and ask yourself: “Why does this offend me?”, “Do I have insecurities that can be worked on here?”
Your life is going to be incredibly difficult if you go through it thinking your offense is everyone else’s fault. You can’t control others and their intent isn’t always known, so focus on what you can control: your perception
Lastly, you can learn a lot about a person through the ways in which they try to insult you. We can know what is offensive only through our perceptions, meaning that insults we use on others are a reflection of our inner world and based on things we would personally find offensive. As an example, the individuals who sling around words like racist, sexist, transphobic, misogynistic, etc. are simply shedding light on what they would personally take offense to, probably because there is an insecurity related to it (e.g., it’s a shadow truth about themselves that they don’t want to admit).