89 responses

  1. Wendy Irene
    July 9, 2011

    I like to stop and take a moment to reflect if what I am hearing sounds like truth. If it does I take it in and decide what direction I want to go with the information. If it doesn’t I brush it off and keep moving forward. Having love and compassion for yourself makes it easier not to take things so personally.

    • Ken Wert
      July 9, 2011

      I think that is so wise of you, Wendy. Reflecting on the validity of what others say instead of the tone or perceived intentions of the person saying them or the words used to express the content the words convey takes maturity and a lot of that self-love and self-compassion you refer to. Thank you so much for adding that insight to the post!

      One of the things I love most about blogging is all the insight and inspiration I get from others improving what I started with comments such as yours!

  2. Justin | Spiritual Development
    July 9, 2011

    Hey Ken,
    Great list of effective tools and strategies for overcoming sensitivity. I have to admit that when I am tired or feeling out of sorts I am more likely to be offended.

    I generally don’t react to what someone says unless it is so egregious that I have to say something. I also realize that when someone is being offensive that it is never about me.

    Stop being so god-damned offended and taking yourself so seriously. This is what I proactively remind myself everyday. :)

    • Ken Wert
      July 9, 2011

      Good to see you again, my friend!

      Like you, Justin, I tend to speak up, perhaps not so much out of a sense of offense, but out of a strongly developed sense of justice, when people behave poorly. My wife thinks that if I hadn’t become a teacher, I would have been happy as a cop. She’s probably right!

      But I think you nailed it with your proactive reminder not to take yourself seriously. I think if I were to write the post over again, I would include the importance of developing a good sense of humor. Learning to laugh at ourselves, like you said, not taking ourselves seriously, is so critical to learning to let thinks slide off our backs.

      When people flip me off for honking at them (there’s my over-developed sense of justice again!) for their rude driving, for example, I have to laugh. I see so much silliness in their behavior — grown adults flipping me off for their own rude behavior.

      Being able to laugh in the face of intended offense is crucial to refusing the offense.

      You’re a good man, Justin. Thanks for the added insight!

  3. marc van der Linden
    July 10, 2011

    Great points, Ken!

    My personal highest motivation for not offending people as an reaction on feeling offended myself. Because I know that after you offend somebody there is an unbalance in the interaction and possible in the relationship. This will make it is more difficult to come in a win/win situation together.

    That’s why I avoid to feel offended and your 10 points are great reminders to keep achieving that.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Ken Wert
      July 10, 2011

      Thanks, Marc!

      Win/win relationships are certainly the goal. If we become the martyr in a relationship, we are not being true to ourselves. If we are offending the other, we are violating a most sacred trust. The only real alternative is to treat others kindly, with love and compassion and understanding. Once that is truly our mindset, we will have gone far to down the road to a life without giving or accepting offense.

      Thank you for commenting, Marc. It’s always good to see you drop by.

  4. ayo
    July 11, 2011

    hello ken

    how are you?

    thanks for sharing this article.

    i’ve found out that unconsciously counting in my head and talking myself out of the offence often calms me and prevents me from taking inappropriate actions.

    it doesnt mean i wouldnt be assertive or express how i feel being wronged but i certainly wont throw caution to the wind because it’s not helped in the past.

    humility is certainly a trait one needs to work on because sometimes offence may stem from from pride or class issues. i also think being self centred is linked with certain aspects of pride

    it’s important to accept that we would get offended at some points/times in our lives and once it occurs, we must practice the art of detachment learning to distinguish what goes on in our thoughts.

    take care and enjoy the rest of the day

    • Ken Wert
      July 11, 2011

      Hello Ayo, my friend!

      Wonderful observations on your part! Being assertive is as important to our happiness, in some ways, as not taking offense. Otherwise, we become doormats to those who are willing to walk all over other people who don’t stand up for themselves. The opposite of assertiveness is weakness. And weakness is never a place from which happiness grows.

      I do believe there are some appropriate times to be offended as a moral instinct to moral offense. But if we hang on to the offense and let it fester inside, that’s when it does the most harm to our happiness.

      Thanks again for your insights, Ayo!

      Have an awesome week!

  5. Debbie
    July 11, 2011

    Great post Ken,

    I was married to a man that was verbally abusive. Yes, i did grow thick skin. In the end I felt bad for him, because he didn’t and could stop himself, because he was “too big to take offense”.

    Self esteem can play a big part in how you handle someones remarks. When our self worth is low we get to sensitive about things.
    When someone is to sensitive, they need to take a look at themselves. you can not be a victim unless you allow it. Some have to work a little harder at solving this problem, but anything is possible when we decide to change a habit or behavior.
    Thank for the reminder and blessing to you,

    • Ken Wert
      July 11, 2011

      Hi Debbie!

      I always love reading your comments. Thank you for this one too! And I am so glad you are no longer in a verbally abusive marriage, Debbie.

      It’s so true what you said about self-esteem and taking offense. Those who feel small inside would find it difficult to be “too big to take offense.” Others’ opinions and treatment of them become disproportionately important because they lack a strong enough internal voice of self-validation.

      Thank you so much for your wisdom and your work on behalf of our shared passion for happiness!

      Have a wonderful week!

  6. Bryan Thompson
    July 11, 2011

    Hi Ken! Great post. I heard a talk by Craig Groeschel once where he talked about rejection. In it, he said, “There are some people who look for ways to be offended.” I have found this to be true. I suppose this goes hand in hand with taking ourselves too seriously. I love this but really love the admonition you give to “accept ourselves.”

    • Ken Wert
      July 11, 2011

      I like that: “There are some who look for ways to be offended.” So true! I know people like that. It kind of breaks my heart. I know how much happier life could be for them if they would just step away from looking for proof that people are jerks and want to hurt them all the time.

      Thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing the Groeschel quote, Bryan. Keep up the great work you do on your blog. I really enjoy the read — lots of great stuff.

  7. Karen Caffrey
    July 12, 2011

    Hi Ken,

    I’ve learnt that there is energy associated with what we say and what we do. When we respond negatively to a perceived offence we are adding to the negative energy. At first, I thought this was a bit “out there”, but experimenting taught me the truth of it.

    I have turned potentially explosive conversations around, by choosing to respond positively instead of returning negative for negative.

    It is also much healthier to not take offense. Our body chemistry releases some very nasty stuff when we are angry.

    To happy conversations!


    • Ken Wert
      July 12, 2011

      Hi Karen!

      Isn’t that so amazing? I’ve had those opportunities to return kindness and patience and love for anger and negativity too. I just love the expression on the faces of those who expected the typical response I’m sure they’re used to getting. They sometimes don’t quite know what to do.

      I’ve even had one person break out laughing because my response kept them from automatically going into fight-mode and I’m sure they saw themselves and the silliness of the situation clearly, who knows, but perhaps for the first time.

      Congratulations at having learned that powerful lesson. Too many haven’t. Positive replies of love and compassion and a true desire to see past the anger to try to help is a wonderful way to live life. And a happier one to boot!

      Thank you so much for sharing such important insights with us, adding to the conversation.

      To wonderful comments!

  8. farouk
    July 13, 2011

    such great points Ken especially in time where we are most likely to get criticized by others
    i liked point number 3 Assume a Benevolent Motive the most
    keep it up :)

    • Ken Wert
      July 13, 2011

      Thank you, Farouk!

      Speaking of criticism, I think there are two ways to interpret criticism that can keep us from losing our cool and turn a potentially negative encounter into a positive one:

      1. Recognize the truth in the criticism. We really can learn to focus our attention on what is being said while ignoring how it is being said. The critique just may be accurate or partially so and our offense, and resulting defensiveness, can prevent us from catching an area of needed growth. If we truly hunger for truth and personal improvement, we can even learn to feel a degree of gratitude for a blind spot having been made visible by someone who was willing to take the time to point it out, even if delivered in an awkward or irreverent tone.

      2. The critique is a reflection of the critic, not me or my work. In this case, it is easy to dismiss the critic’s words as so much nonsense without feeling offended. We might even feel a little sorry for the person, hoping one day the critic will overcome the personality or character flaws reflected in the nature of the criticism that are likely preventing him/her from experiencing as much joy as would otherwise be experienced.

      Then if you add the assumption that buried below the surface of a cranky delivery, there was a benevolent motive, then life can go on just as sunny and cheery as if no criticism was ever delivered in the first place.

      Thanks for your input and kind words, my friend!

      Have an amazing week!

  9. Dave Ursillo
    July 15, 2011

    Great list of tips here, Ken! I think my top three are

    1) to not care of the opinions of others, because they mostly originate from a place of self-judgement and are projected upon others as the (subconscious, ego-dominated) means of feeling better about one’s self

    2) knowing that being offended comes from that same egoic thinking: i’m hurt that someone thinks ill of my own projected self-image, and that usually too originates from a place of insecurity. I won’t care about someone not liking my shoes, because i’m not insecure about my shoes– they’re just shoes. But if I’m insecure about my body or job, I’ll obviously be far more offended and worried when someone judges them.


    • Ken Wert
      July 16, 2011

      Excellent points, Dave.

      So true about recognizing that offenses can come from a place of insecurity in the offending person as a way to pull others down to feel better about themselves and their own dissatisfying lives can certainly make dismissing their offenses easier.

      I truly appreciate the insight you bring on ego and trait- or condition-specific insecurities. You are dead-on about feeling more vulnerable to criticism of those parts of us that we feel insecure about. You add a wonderful level of depth to the topic.

      I would also distinguish between feeling vulnerable and insecure from that of being offended. I can feel insecure about my looks and therefore more susceptible to feeling down after someone calls me ugly without feeling offended — feeling anger and resentment, like I’ve been wronged, that the person had no right to say such things to such as I!

      Thanks again for the clarity and insight you brought here. Keep up the good work you do! And have an awesome weekend, Dave.

  10. Connie
    November 11, 2011

    happyv to find this site at a time in my life when your answers were so apt. Thankyou

    • Ken Wert
      November 11, 2011

      I’m happy you found it too, Connie! :)

      I sincerely hope things in your life are on the upward swing. If not, or if things are such that whether upward swinging or not, life just plain hurts a bit, please take courage in this thought at least: You are a part of a tiny minority of people on planet earth, a minority that increases the likelihood that someday, quicker than most, you’ll be standing in the proverbial sun, the glow of satisfaction radiating from you.

      And what’s the nature of that minority? You are among those who seek for answers to life’s challenges. Most don’t. They simply live under the weight and burden of their difficulties, wishing things were better, maybe trying to change things, but never taking action to learn new ways of climbing the mountain called life.

      So whether here at Meant to be Happy or elsewhere, keep looking, keep searching, keep reading, keep learning, keep growing. And in that process, life will fill with a greater sense of joy.

      Nice meeting you Connie, and welcome to M2bH!

  11. Eveline
    March 28, 2012

    I am very thankful for your article, but I am struggling with something that I feel is too big for me to deal with.

    After six years of living abroad I moved back to my home country.

    Whether I have changed or the country has, I don’t know, but it feels like people on a day to day basis just don’t respect each other anymore.

    Teenagers that just push you aside, no “please or thank you’s” to be found, very much a me-myself-and-I attitude. The parents are as much the offenders as the children are. Even the grandparents. I have witnessed rudeness from an eldery lady. I was stunned.

    I feel so horrible about the situation. I miss the attitude I got used to over the past years: one of happiness and optimism and especially friendliness.

    Over the past six months I have practised nothing but kindness, friendliness and optimism. And yes, people do react to that, but as soon as you are in the car or on your bike or in any other anonymous spot, it is the same story again. “I won’t use my blinker, cause it is too much trouble”, “I won’t let you go first, cause I am in a hurry”. Stuff like that.
    I call it a lack of respect for other living beings.

    Trying to talk to other people about it makes them feel very offended (it might be I am just too passionate about this) but I try not to make it personal, more a general thing. And I am aware it is not the people that are horrible, it is their behaviour.
    And many people agree, but just think nothing can be changed.

    I would love it if their behaviour could change, so we can make this a nicer world. A friendlier world. One where we help each other, just because we can.

    Any tips for a desperately seeking positivity person? :-)

    • Ken Wert
      May 1, 2012

      So sorry for the delayed reply, Eveline. I experienced the same things back a whole bunch of years ago after returning home from a two year stay in Taiwan. The first thing I noticed was how rude and impatient and inward-focused people were back home. If you haven’t already experienced what I did, just hang in there because what happens, is we get accustomed to the new norm. It was so striking when you got home because the norm was somewhere else with a different culture. This will become the new norm shortly, if it hasn’t already since you first commented.

      The change we can have is to continue doing what you’re doing, perhaps not so much talking about it as much as being you, unjaded, loving, kind, respectful. Let your life shine so brightly in how you treat others that they have no option but to smile and be kinder and respectful.

      I did this with one woman who always snarled and grimaced at everyone. I decided to make her my project. So everyday I would shout out my most chipper greeting and ever day she would scowl at me. I kept it up for nearly half a year. During Eater/Spring break, I didn’t pass by her house, so never saw her. Mind you, to this point, I had never seen ANYTHING but her dirty look. After break, I waled by her place again. She stopped me and said how much she had missed seeing me those weeks. After that, she always smiled and greeted me. That’s the change you can instigate.

  12. bamabrasileira
    April 30, 2012

    sounds like a great way to get people to start repressing what they are truly feeling and push them further along the road to drug use, alcoholism, or suicide (the things that people do when they get sick of pretending that they are not offended, rather than taking some time to acknowledge their true feelings and explore why they are there as a means of moving through them). it all looks great on paper, though.

    • Ken Wert
      April 30, 2012

      Come now, don’t be shy. Tell me what you REALLY think!

      Okay, where do I start?

      Some people are easily offended. It’s like walking on egg shells around them. They get bent out of shape over tiny infractions or worse, over nothing at all, over perceived slights and imagined wrongs.

      But there are also people who let things slide off their backs, who don’t even think twice about even intended offenses. They don’t repress anything. They simply are not bothered in the slightest over things the hyper-sensitive get enraged over.


      The bottom line is not that those who are not easily offended “feel their pain” then move on or, on the other hand, repress their “true” feelings. The bottom line is that some people simply think very differently about life, themselves and others. This article has NOTHING to do with getting people to feel their pain to get past that particular emotional challenge.

      Rather, it’s about learning to see life differently, think about things differently, to no longer be so easily offended. That would hardly lead to all the dire ends you so darkly predict. For those who are easily offended (the title of this article, by the way), it would be impossible for them to “feel” their true feelings and work through them when everything under God’s sun offends them. They would be emotional wrecks. They ARE emotional wrecks.

      There are ways of actually changing what we feel about events or sets of circumstances. It’s not repressing your feelings if by changing how you think about things, you no longer feel that way.

      It’s emotional immaturity to demand the “right” to feel what they feel if those feelings are damaging spouses and children and making life a living @#!*% for those who are doing all the egg shell walking.

      True, they can go deep into their pasts and uncover events or situations that have created the emotional sensitivity in the first place. But that’s not the only way to get past the hyper-sensitivity. And in many cases, it’s not even enough. Many people have grown up getting angry easily. They’ve developed deeply entrenched habitual ways of responding to life, perhaps over decades. Addressing past feelings won’t be enough in such cases. They will need to learn new habitual responses, new ways of approaching life. THAT’S what this post was all about.

      Hope that clarifies. If not, would love to hear where you think my thinking is off target. Perhaps a direct assault on the ideas presented would be more effective than a sarcastic generality? Look forward to any challenge you may have.

      • bamabrasileira
        May 1, 2012

        hi ken – i appreciate the dialogue, and my response was not sarcastic. also it is difficult to have this kind of dialogue without generalizing, as including each person on the planet earth on an individualistic level is not possible, and because most of us are not as unique as we would like to think we are. i also stand by my previous assertion that trying to get people to “get over it” and simply not be who they feel that they are is one of the things that leads many of us into more darkness. i will agree with you that as we mature, many of us naturally move out of being easily offended by others because the opinions of others tend to be less important to us. however, mature people tend to have the self knowledge and life experience to be ABLE to not take what others say to heart all the time. i think people who are easily offended are not asking others to walk on eggshells or making the world responsible for them. rather, they are calling the people in their lives to be more conscious of how they interact – something that is infinitely more useful than telling people to simply not be offended.

        i also disagree that people who are easily offended tend to be offended by “everything”. they tend to be offended by comments that suggest that there is something wrong with them (i.e. comments about how they look, their life choices – however negative or positive, their ethnicity or culture, etc.). when we make “helpful” suggestions to others or comments that suggest that there is something wrong with their beingness, we are really communicating: “you would be better if you were more like me.” rather than asking people to be more like you, or to forget all the other emotions god purposefully gave them (as god does not make mistakes – regardless of what we as humans may feel on a personal level) why not ask those who are offensive to become more conscious about the things they say to people? over the years, i have learned that i do not have the “right” to impose my worldview on others. it is beneficial, however, to express my opinion and enter into meaningful dialogue with another person if they feel offended by what i have said, as we are both “right” according to the events that lead us to have the individual viewpoint to begin with.

        should we just subscribe to the “don’t be so sensitive” attitude when muslims get offended when non-muslims want to make jokes about terrorism in front of them? when black people get offended when white people want to wear blackface and continue to use the word ” @#!*% ” in everyday conversation? when women want to speak out about their right not to hear people making jokes about rape? when native americans do not want to see the sacred symbols of their culture displayed on people’s underwear or footwear as a fashion statement? when brazilian people don’t want non-brazilians to make prostitution jokes around them? when fat people don’t want to be ridiculed because of their weight? when anorexic people don’t want to be ridiculed for their weight? when white people (americans )don’t want to be made to feel guilty due to the sins of their ancestors? when retarded or handicapped people don’t want to hear jokes about their natural state of beingness?

        this list could go on for DAYS. perhaps what is being asked is for people to become more conscious about how they speak to one another, rather than “maturing” out of their natural feelings.

      • Ken Wert
        May 1, 2012

        Awesome response. Thanks for the willingness to continue with this. The sarcasm was in the tone, not the message. “Sounds like a great way to get people to …” is what I was referencing. No big deal though. I can wane sarcastic myself. It can be a powerful way to make a point.

        But I see human nature differently than you do, evidently. I don’t believe people mature by virtue of their aging. I know plenty of very immature, self-centered, negative, sour and thin-skinned adults. I think emotional maturity is something that’s acquired something akin to muscles or knowledge. It’s something worked at, developed and sought after. Some may mature by virtue of their life experiences, but not everyone responds to those experiences the same way. One event can cripple one person and empower another. And it’s not so much about “getting over it” as much as changing perceptions and building character to the point that there’s truly nothing to get over.

        And here’s another question. Is our thin-skinned-ness “who we are”? Or is it a way we’ve learned to respond to situations?

        I think we have very different ways of seeing things here too where you say, “i think people who are easily offended are not asking others to walk on eggshells or making the world responsible for them. rather, they are calling the people in their lives to be more conscious of how they interact – something that is infinitely more useful than telling people to simply not be offended.” But by calling others to live more conscious of how they interact IS asking them to change the way they speak and interact with them. That IS asking them to walk on eggshells if they are hyper-sensitive. You see, there are two ways to go through life. We can look within and learn and grow and take responsibility for our thoughts and emotions and reactions. Or we can try to get others to bend to our sensitivities. I think the former is empowering and happiness-inspiring. I think the latter is the recipe for our happiness to be forever at the mercy of other peoples’ moods and behavior. That’s a state of dependence and emotional self-imposed slavery.

        You do make a good point in making a distinction between those who are easily offended being easily offended by CERTAIN things rather than taking offense at EVERYTHING. But I hold to my premise that those who are easily offended over everything or only certain things are still at an emotional disadvantage. Just as someone who is plagued by the fear of failure by definition limits their opportunities in life, so someone who is easily offended, no matter how narrowly tailored are limited in their happiness.

        You claim that God doesn’t create mistakes. True. But is God responsible for the way we were raised, what we think, our attitudes and behaviors? Do we have free will? Can we start with a good thing and tarnish it? If so, then we can END UP with something far from perfect, very flawed and even broken. To celebrate something that’s broken as whole is to keep the thing broken. Only when we recognize and accept that something is incomplete can we fill it in with the missing pieces. There are real people living in real misery because of very messed up ways of thinking, believing and behaving. To call these wonderful and perfect and good and whole is to freeze them int he still life of their misery. So being more like me or someone else is not the point at all. The point is to be more free of the self-limiting characteristics we sometimes impose on ourselves ans more often had imposed on us from childhood, but that we’ve retained and adopted and internalized.

        Besides, that our emotions are God-given doesn’t address the issue either. My hands are God-given, but I can use them to lift and shape and climb and build or I can use them to kill and torture and rape and murder. The existence of the emotion isn’t the issue. It’s the degree and frequency and circumstances that make the emotions reasonable or self-defeating and quality-of-life destroying.

        You speak of asking others to be less offensive. That’s fine. There are genuinely people who are offensive and we have every right to approach them to urge a change in their gruff and insensitive communications. But that’s going beyond what this article is about. Again, the title tells all. It’s about hyper-sensitive people, not people offended by hyper-rude people. If a rude person offends us, then the offense can be justified. But the article isn’t about squelching our reasonable offenses over genuinely rude behavior. It’s about those whose lives are hampered and distressed over their hyper-sensitivity.

        And here’s another area of disagreement: Suppose two hikers took different routes up the side of a mountain. One ended up on a peak that was not the summit. The other made it to the true summit. At the bottom of the mountain they may both argue about who made it to the summit. The path that they each took may very well have taken them to the only place they could have ended up in. But that doesn’t change the location of the summit. Likewise, our perceptions of others motives and meanings may have been defined by the paths that brought each to the misunderstanding, but that doesn’t mean both are right about how words are interpreted. Learning to more clearly see reality is an important part of our personal growth. Having a “right” to think or see or believe or feel something is separate from whether that’s the best or happiest or even the accurate way to see, think, believe and feel. Out feelings are largely the natural consequence of the way we think and believe about life and ourselves and others. To change how we feel about a situation, we would first have to change what we think about it. That’s where we can have so much influence over our long-run feelings.

        Your list of scenarios over which you have thought I suggested we should not be offended or hurt is not the scenarios that fit into the title of the article. That is not hyper-sensitivity. For a person who is seriously overweight to be hurt by someone calling them all kinds of fat slurs is nothing related to what I’m talking about. My article does not apply to nay of those examples. It is for those whose happiness is compromised because the OVER-react to situations. Pain felt as a result of indecent people hurtling sharpened insults at the most sensitive parts of us is not hyper-sensitivity.

        Okay, I better stop here. Would love to continue this if you feel inclined. I think this kind of conversation is important, if for no other reason than making me clarify.

        Truly appreciated.

        PS: Too long to proof-read, so forgive if I’ve rambled too much! :)

  13. bamabrasileira
    May 1, 2012

    hi Ken – i appreciate the response. i guess we are not on the same page about who we are speaking about. in my experience, it is precisely the scenarios that i mentioned that are typically called into question by those doing the offending. i am not sure about what you mean by “offended about everything” as my list is surely included in “everything.” also, i would say that the world has been created with all aspects of humanity for a reason, and that the ultimate purpose for existence is not simply to be “happy.” i am not really clear about what you mean by “hypersensitive.” as an african american woman, i have often been urged ( ONLY by white people ) not to be so sensitive about the thoughtless things that white people tend to do to or say about black people (since THEY: do not have an issue with white people wearing black face, don’t see any problem with the use of the “n”word, don’t see “color”, don’t get why slavery still affects all americans today, don’t perceive institutionalised racism, don’t understand why black people are up in arms over trayvon martin – etc., that I shouldn’t either). i have often had it suggested to me that i am somehow weak, thin skinned, or hypersensitive because i find these things hurtful and offensive. the suggestion is that, because i get angry sometimes or feel hurt by these things, there is something wrong with how i perceive the situation, rather than the situation being one that i am allowed to disagree with emotionally.

    i believe your suggestions are coming from a pure place, and acknowledge that it is often the simplest answers that we ignore ( i.e. the way toward world peace is for everyone to stop fighting). they would be great suggestions if everyone was somewhat one dimensional or cut from the same cloth. but we are not. usually when i see a woman getting offended over something her boyfriend said to her, it is symptomatic of a deeper issue within the relationship.generally when i hear stories about a “quiet kid” or a “good student who had lots of friends” walking into a
    school and shooting people, it is because he/she felt “offended” by something life had to offer and did not feel free to acknowledge and move through those feelings. my point is that just because you or i do not think something is a big deal,does not mean that everyone should think that way. we also must look at where a person is starting from to determine whether or not their feelings are ultimately leading them to greater growth and maturity or into a brick wall.

    your suggestions are pure and do serve a purpose for those who are basically stable and probably do not require much help to begin with. but for those who are truly struggling with what you may deem as “hypersensitivity” or “thin-skinned-ness” the suggestion to simply not be offended or to use the rational mind to reason away offense may not be beneficial.

    as a nurse, i have witnessed many people harming themselves for reasons that i could not understand or even wanting to kill themselves (or others) for reasons that i (who had already outgrown being deeply hurt by such things) perceived as minor at best. i then began to realize that perhaps these people were not “wrong”in their perceptions. perhaps they were simply at a different level of understanding about how they relate to the world and other people than i. perhaps they needed to experience some deep discomfort for the purpose of growing into something more, or die trying. at this point, on the rare occassion that i see that i have offended someone (and i rarely do because i do not make to many comments about anyone’s appearance, culture, religion, family that could be construed as anything but positive) i ask them why they were offended and we talk about it for clarification. after growing to more deeply understand the complex emotional aspects of our humanity, i have come to realize that the solution is often not to develop a thicker skin (as this is generally code for emotional repression rather than emotional growth).

    i have taken this so personally because i have, at many points in my life, witnessed “happy”people ( who i later discovered were alcoholics, child molesters, drug users, narcissists, closeted gay homophobes – you name it) instructing those they perceived as hypersensitive to just become more thick skinned. i do believe your heart is in the right place when you give these suggestions. i am just not sure if it is meant for people who are not 1 dimensional (not a sarcastic statement, but a heartfelt one).

    also, it may seem that the world’s “darkness” is “wrong” because it makes us uncomfortable. but god did include this in his creation of all that is, so perhaps it is not wrong from his perspective. you are correct – he did give us free will. perhaps the fact that we disagree with what someone else is doing or how they feel does not make them “wrong” or broken and in need of fixing. perhaps they are doing god’s work too and it is not up to those of us who are uncomfortable with what they are doing to tell them that it is not right. from this perspective, i can agree with your tactics for avoiding people who make you uncomfortable (or hypersensitive people). i am still trying to think of some offenses that would prompt me to think someone is “easily”offended (as the ones in my previous list are the types of things that i generally witness others being offended over and then urged to just develop a thicker skin), but i can’t think of ANY! anyway, thanks for the dialoge.

    • Ken Wert
      May 7, 2012

      Just as all apples are fruit but not all fruit are apples, so being too offended doesn’t mean we should never be offended. Being offended in everything would include those things you listed. But not everything is those things. In other words, people with thin skin certainly would be offended by racial slurs and the like. But they would also be offended by the guy who pulls onto the freeway going 3 miles an hour slower than they think the merging driver should be going. They are offended when a neighbor doesn’t say “hi” or a family member doesn’t take a slice of their pie at a family reunion. They get bent out of shape over big AND little things. The problem isn’t that they get offended by the offensive things, but that they ALSO get offended by the inoffensive things. They read offense into too much, where offense wasn’t intended and where most people wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Their relationships are strained and mechanical because those who interact with them are afraid to say much of anything for fear of once again being taken the wrong way. My article wasn’t written to excuse bad and rude behavior from reasonably offended people. It was to point those people who are tired of bending their relationships to the point of breakage and want to figure out how to change themselves, to grow, to learn how to stop being so EASILY offended.

      As for being one-dimensional, I don’t believe anyone is. All people are multi-dimensional. It’s easy to claim someone to be one-dimensional because they don’t have the dimensions I have or see things in a particular area of life as complex as I do. There’s no way to know if someone is thin-skinned by watching them as a nurse or from a narrow window of opportunity into their lives. The pain, the circumstances, the history with the family member, it’s all beyond our ability to see. I’m not judging anyone as hyper sensitive. Rather, I’m offering those who suspect or know they are a set of ideas that can help them change if they no longer want to continue down that self-defeating road.

      I agree with you that just because I don’t think something is a big deal, that therefore no one else does or should. But then you say this: “we also must look at where a person is starting from to determine whether or not their feelings are ultimately leading them to greater growth and maturity or into a brick wall.” Exactly. I’m not pointing at you or anyone in particular. But those who self-describe themselves as overly sensitive, who fly into a rage over spilled milk (literally or figuratively), they decide whether there are brick walls in their lives they keep running into and choose to use the tips I provided to achieve some of that emotional growth. Growth requires something of us. It doesn’t happen for having recognized a truth. We don’t say, “Oh, cigarettes are bad for me? Okay, I’m done with them.” Perhaps a very tiny minority of people can. Virtually all others struggle with the change. Many give up trying to change. And while tobacco is chemically addictive, rage and hyper-sensitivity can be just as addictive. There are even recovery groups for those addicted to impatience and anger, both being close cousins to hyper-sensitivity.

      As for who my suggestions would help, I believe they would help anyone who put them to the test. But who would put them to the test? Perhaps you’re right that those who are otherwise generally emotionally stable would have the best results. But that’s because no article written by anyone on any subject is going to “cure” those with deep emotional problems. So of course they would have to seek professional help. A good diet rich in what nutritionists are calling Super Foods will help ward off cancer. But to use it as a cure for someone with cancer already is patently not sufficient. Competent medical help is needed. But that doesn’t mean the patient shouldn’t start eating foods that have cancer-fighting properties in the meantime. Eating healthy is not a one-dimensional piece of advice. It’s actually profoundly important advice. To medically eradicate cancer, then eat in ways that both fail to self-protect against free-radicals and eat foods that are actually linked to cancer is to be fool-hearty. So certainly someone with deep-rooted problems should seek professional help for their emotional cancer. But the diet of tips I provided to help beef up the emotional immune system can do wonders too.

      No where do I talk of repressing feelings. Most of what I suggest are ways to change how we perceive things and therefore change (not repress) how we feel about them. It’s not pretending to see things differently. It’s to actually see them differently. Not all people are equally offended by the same things to the same degree. Well, what’s the difference? Sure, there are different backgrounds and histories. But what did those backgrounds and histories do? One thing they did was to create a way of looking at the world, ourselves and other. That framework is the context within which a particular offense is perceived as an offense. Sure, we can spend years going into the past, peeling away the layers of pain and figure out how we feel about mom and dad and all that. And there very well may be a place for that kind of traditional therapy. But I believe often that’s not needed, that we can change the “now” despite the “then.” Habitual emotional responses (no matter what they derive from) can be changed to more self-supportive, healthy and relationship-building responses. Delving into feelings is healthy, as long as we don’t stay stuck there or self-justify our emotional hypersensitivity because of those deep emotional cracks in our pasts.

      There certainly are people who bury their feelings and act happy who below the surface are alcoholics and molesters and liars and narcissists and the like. But they aren’t happy people. They have the façade, but none (or little) of the substance. Don’t condemn cancer treatment because some people don’t respond to the treatment. Because some have fooled others into thinking they were happy, don’t throw the concept of happiness out the window.

      I also agree that disagreeing with someone doesn’t necessarily make them wrong. But it doesn’t necessarily make them right either. There are happy people and there are miserable people. There are those who think and believe in ways that keeps them lonely, angry and depressed. The watch TV all day, do little, live for themselves, and fill their lives with trivial matters, watching soaps and celebrity shows or surfing porn sites all day and late into the night. There are others who are proactively engaged in changing the world, growing and accomplishing things that matter to them. They are living a life that is packed full of meaning and joy. There is a clear better and worse life to live here. To suggest that living in bitter hurt and angry offense is not as good as living with self-confidence, emotional independence from insensitive people and happiness seems odd. Not everything I disagree with is wrong, granted. But there are lives that need to change, that need to grow IF they are to have happier relationships, raise happier children and be happier themselves.

      Horribly depressed people can still do God’s work. But I don’t think they can do it nearly as well as if they felt better. This is not to say that their emotional state is necessarily a sin. It’s just that I believe in a God who actually WANTS us to live happy lives. To live in angry bitterness, easily offended is to live with less happiness than is available for those who apply the tips I provided and learn and grow and become a bit more emotionally stable.

      PS: I’m really enjoying this dialogue. Thanks so much for engaging me here!

  14. Tracy Nguyen
    June 17, 2012

    I have a friend who is easily offended and then confronts everyone about whatever she’s offended by, and we all recoil in fear because we can never reason with her. She’s always right and will never give in, so we just give in and move on. I’d love to send her this article but I don’t think she is self-aware enough to know that she is easily offended and should improve on that. Thus, it will offend her that I even suggested she read this haha. What a dilemma.

    Anyway I practice #2/3/8/9 quite frequently but I’ll have to try very hard to accept myself to reduce even more offenses. I don’t have very high self-esteem, so a lot of times I feel like people are pointing out or hinting at things that I already feel insecure about. But I’l definitely work on the other 6 ways!

    • Ken Wert
      June 18, 2012

      Hi Tracy! I think most of us have had a friend or two (or a family member) like that. The sad thing is that they so often push us so far away, that the friendship dissolves. There’s a fine line between feeling offended and being offended for manipulative purposes. Offense can be a form of emotional bullying. I hope your friend has the long-run blessing of frank friends who are willing to risk the friendship for the sake of the friend. We don’t grow by getting everyone around us to conform to our hypersensitivity, after all.

      Oh those insecurities we carry with us! They can be such drags on our happiness, can’t they! I need to put a self esteem post on my list of things to write about. I’ve actually never written about it. There’s a lot of good research on the topic, though. There are really two kinds of self-esteem. One is skill-specific (confidence in my ability to play tennis or high self-esteem as a singer). The other is general (the I-like-myself-as-a-person kind). For the first, the only real way to improve is, of course, get better. The other takes a bit more. The quickest comment I can make is to spend more time int he present moment, thinking about what you’re doing rather than who you are doing it or what you look like or whether others like it or not.

      OK, I’m off to make a few notes for that future self-esteem post. Thanks for the inspiration!

      PS: You’ve always struck me as a pretty amazing and impressive person. But, of course, self-esteem issues are rarely very objective or rational. Bummer, huh!

  15. Tracy Nguyen
    June 18, 2012

    When you replied to my very first comment last week, I tried not to respond too fast so it doesn’t seem like I have nothing going on in my life haha. However, I felt this one should be speedy since my thoughts are fresh and maybe it could help with your notes on the topic.

    About the two types of self-esteem:
    I had a discussion with my friend once where I said I think there’s a difference between confidence and self-esteem, whereas she disagreed and thought they were the same. To me, confidence is that skill-based self-esteem you spoke of. “I know I’m good at this skill or that. So I’m a confident person because I know I’m capable.” And self-esteem is the irrational way you see and value yourself. So people who have a lot of love and comfort from friends/family may have this bizarre low self-esteem that no one can understand. But I guess you could be right; there could be just two types of self-esteem, and not simply self esteem vs confidence like I had originaly thought.

    And as for my own self-esteem, I think part of it is how one’s family is. Do you watch the show Modern Family? I think you should! It’s funny and shows three different family dynamics. Anyway, one of the young girls, Haley, has her bf come over for dinner and her whole family is fighting about something, but her bf butts in and says something like “I like Haley because she has this mysterious confidence and I think it comes from having such a close family. You all come together to eat dinner and talk but my family isn’t like that.” Ever since I can remember, my parents were always out working or hanging out with their own friends, so my siblings and I pretty much raised ourselves. You’d think my siblings and I would at least be close then, but we sort of are not. I mean I can sit with my sisters for hours talking about problems, life, etc., but we don’t really spend all that much time together at home. We’re all in our own rooms doing our own thing. So if most of my early life was being isolated and alone, it ingrains in my brain that maybe I’m not likable nor good enough since even my own family doesn’t pay much attention to me.

    The rest of “my problem” started after high school. I think I was a pretty happy and confident person in high school. I knew these people for years so I was comfortable. But after high school, I found myself more and more isolated from the people who I thought were my friends and it got me thinking “well maybe I’m annoying and not likable or not good enough etc. etc. because why would they keep in contact with other people (ie people better than me?) and not me, etc. etc.” And it wasn’t just high school friends, it was also my college friends. I did make some really good friends, but after leaving high school and leaving college, I felt like I was the only one making any effort to keep in contact. So the question in my mind and later in my heart was always, “what’s wrong with me that would make people ignore me?”

    So as I said, part of me figured “well maybe they never liked me. Maybe they found me really annoying.” I know this is kind of sad to think of oneself, but actually after reading your blog for the first time the other day, I decided to just spin it for myself. Even if people don’t like me, that must mean that the people who do like me must really love me since they look past my annoying banter. So i’ll be grateful for the people who do like me and care enough to talk to me and ask how i’ve been.

    • Ken Wert
      June 29, 2012

      Hi Tracy,

      I think you’re right. I was being a bit lazy by conflating the two concepts into one word. But I do think self-esteem and confidence are (at least can be) different. Where self-esteem is a more general view of oneself, confidence, like you said, is activity or characteristic-specific. The usage that brings them much closer in definition is when you talk about someone being a confident person or a person with high self-esteem. Using the words that way makes them something pretty close to synonyms.

      Most of our sense of self stems from childhood, from parents who did too much of one thing or too little of another. But it’s also how we interpret what they did, the meaning we attach to it as we grow and develop.

      While I don’t watch Modern Family (never even heard of it — don’t watch much TV), it sounds interesting. Certainly paints a clear backdrop to what you say about your family. The good news is that although foundations can be very important, they are not determinative. We can reshape our lives and recast ourselves and reinterpret pasts and develop new ways of looking at ourselves, evaluating who we are, and falling madly in love with the person inside.

      And I just love the way you ended this comment, reinterpreting the high school experience by recognizing the strength of your new friends.

      By the way, as a teacher and getting visits from former students all the time, I can tell you that it is very rare that old groups of friends continue very long with very much consistency and virtually never with the same people. The group splinters into smaller factions, then subdivides further, then as everyone goes off to different schools, build new relationships with people outside the group, get-togethers become rarer and rarer until they barely speak. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way, but usually seems to be.

      Thanks for the awesome comment here, Tracy. I truly appreciate the openness and honesty.

      PS: I don;t know where you stand in terms of your parents and what baggage you may or may not carry around with you from the experiences you shared here, but I wrote an article for a friend’s blog called, How to Forgive Your Parents for Doing Such a Crummy Job of Raising You that you may find helpful.

      Sometimes putting the past securely in the past (not buried but completely made peace with) can be the first few steps down the road to creating a new life divorced from the less-than-ideal foundations created by less-than-ideal parenting. Follow the link over and take a look.

      • Tracy meow
        July 20, 2012

        I actually already read that article of yours and even sent it to my friend who fights with her mom pretty often and says she hates her and wants to move out. I think I already moved on over the fact that my parents were/are so busy. They started having kids at a young age and 4 at that, so they worked a lot to support us and then they go out with friends to keep their sanity and blow off some steam. Nowadays, I still don’t really see them around, but I don’t take it personally anymore. After all, until recently, I was the only one working and I am the youngest. I had moved out and I didn’t give my parents much money back, so they’re carrying the financial burden of 3 adults. It’d be nice if we were all a little closer and if we all had jobs, so we can alleviate the financial burden my parents carry. One of the sad things is, I think me and all my siblings lack motivation because of the neglect as kids! My brother and sister are pretty socially awkward. I think I’m pretty socially inept, but my brother and sister are even more so. And remember I said my siblings and I aren’t that close? I’m in Germany right now with them–including Kim and Vy who you know–and I think this is the most time I’ve spent with them haha.

        Well anyway, not sure where I’m going with this, but I have already read your “crummy parenting” article and had already accepted my childhood, but I do need to work towards improving myself beyond my circumstances/foundations so I’m not stuck in this lacking motivation, socially awkward hole that I think is inescapable.

        I hope you’ve been well. I saw both Melinda and Steph this past weekend but separately and they said they visited you recently. Keep up the good work! I subscribed to your blog and I think only two entries had come out since then. You must be busy busy :]

  16. Commenter
    June 20, 2012

    Thank you so much for this article. I have struggled with hyper sensitivity my whole life. I’m having a lot of problems in my relationship because my partner is very straight talking and at times critical and sharp. He wishes I had more “shoulders” but it hurts so much when he makes comments in that dismissive tone he has that makes me feel disrespected. It’s so hard to know where to draw the line with being tougher and learning not too take offense and when to draw the line and stand up for yourself. Thanks for this food for thought.

    • Ken Wert
      June 29, 2012

      So sorry things are difficult for you right now in your relationship. I see two potential problems here though. One perhaps is hypersensitivity, though I can;t make that claim without more information. But rudeness is rudeness. And dismissiveness is rude on any planet.

      But figuring out where that line should be drawn can be tricky. I htink the best way to go is to require polite conversation AND not feel beat up and beat down and devastated by the words or attitude he/she uses. You can find an inner stable core that does not depend on how another talks to you to feel good about yourself while demanding decency.

      Try this: Next time the person speaks dismissively, say within yourself that he/she is the one in need of some basic training is respect and kindness (without personalizing it, without thinking things like, “How dare he” or “Why doesn’t he love me enough to ..” etc.) and say out loud, “I’m sorry, you seem to be speaking to me with an attitude that is not polite. Could you change that for me? Thanks, I’d appreciate it.” Don’t make a huge deal of it, just ask politely, but expectantly. See how that goes. You may need to repeat it dispassionately several times, but interrupt him to interject that statement and let me know what happens. I’d love to hear a follow up!

  17. Marien Perez
    June 27, 2012

    We are easily offended when we think it’s about us, you are so right. What people do or say is mostly not about us. It’s about them.

    I like when you talk about reasoning and asking ourselves “what is it he is trying to say then?” To that, I’d add:

    “what need of his is he trying to meet?”

    “how is this about him/her rathen than about me?”

    But also not forget that others often can see our blind spots:

    “if there is something I could learn from this, what is it?”
    Marien Perez recently posted … Be your own Spiritual Coach: Find PeaceMy Profile

    • Ken Wert
      June 29, 2012

      I love this statement: “What people do or say is mostly not about us. It’s about them.” PERFECTLY said, Marien!

      You added some great questions to ask, including the last one about seeing our blind spots. So true. Lots of wisdom here! Thanks for sharing it!

  18. Joshua Tilghman
    August 16, 2012

    I like the idea of putting myself in the offender’s shoes. No matter what type of person they are, this can give us a critical look into ourselves from a different perspective, even though we are still the ones doing the thinking. Thanks for the idea.
    Joshua Tilghman recently posted … Moses, the Bronze Serpent, and Bible KundaliniMy Profile

    • Ken Wert
      August 16, 2012

      Hey there Joshua,

      It’s kinda funny how we tend to attribute to ourselves the highest and most noble of motives and the worst in others. But if we put ourselves in their shoes, we can actually learn to sense their real intent and, like you said, we can take a glimpse at ourselves through their unique perspective.

      All eye-opening stuff!

  19. Commenter
    August 22, 2012

    Thanks so much for your reply. Your advice in your blog really helped. We actually broke up for a few hours after he said something really rude and I just blew my top! Then we had a very heartfelt conversation where I explained to him that when he speaks impatiently and brusquely to me I feel he doesn’t respect me. I said I’d noticed that with people he admires he is always polite and this is why it hurts so much. He said that those people are people he doesn’t trust or feel comfortable with to be himself and for him, the people he is closest to he can let his guard down and be himself, like with me. He explained that he had never been spoken to with kindness or had any love expressed to him by his parents. In fact they had abused him severely. Then at 19 he went to the army which taught him to be very direct and see sensitivity as a form of weakness. Then working in the cut throat world of banking, he had never had a chance to develop his kind or tactful side. He said he greatly respected me and that he would try. Having that insight turned everything around for me. Now at times when he is sharp or rude, I calmly ask him to stop talking to me like that and he usually stops and then later acknowledges his grumpiness or impatience. The great thing is I am with a man who has grown up in a very hard life with no love, but he is slowly opening up to me and learning tenderness. So many times he held the door wide open and said I should leave him because he wasn’t capable of giving me what I needed and he was too cold and hard. But I love him and see the potential in him and have never left. ( our 4 hour breakup was his idea!) it seems that knowing I love him despite his failings has made him trust me and truly want to be the man to make me happy. Your blog has really helped me not take it personally and see it as something in him rather than a reflection of how he sees me. Thanks so much.

    • Ken Wert
      August 25, 2012

      Dear Commenter,

      I’m touched that you were able to find help here and I truly hope your marriage continues to evolve. To be able to recognize that others moods and rudeness and crankiness are the result of their own challenges and weaknesses is a breakthrough I hope more will have. So glad you did. And it’s great to hear that your husband is mostly responsive to your calm requests to stop being rude. That’s great to hear. Just be sure you are continually working on yourself too. Never get to the point where you say, “Okay, the work is done.” Your own internal work will keep you loving life and feeling good about yourself and your own personal growth. It will also send a signal to your husband to jump on the bandwagon as well (we can hope, right?)

      But I also want to make sure you know that growing up in a loveless home is difficult to overcome without some professional help. You might want to consider seeing a good marriage-family counselor, someone who can help both of you take your relationship to the next level where there is little need to ask him to stop being rude or unkind.

      Still, congratulations on the improvement, but most of all, on your new-found sense of dignity and self-respect, to stand up and ask for what you want with calmness. Feels good, eh?

    • Silk
      November 19, 2013

      I enjoyed your story. I found this blog tonight, in the middle of not talking to the guy I’ve been spending a lot of time with for the last couple months because he said something last night which I took offence to and didn’t try to even make amends for upsetting me. I was in tears last night and in tears a bit today (although he doesn’t know that,) because I know him to be the type of person who has been pretty caring and kind to me overall but he gets scared and runs off/ignores things whenever there is an upset. Then I came upon Ken’s blog by accident tonight when googling the problem (because of still being upset about it) and I had a bit of an epiphany after reading this article. I really thought about what he said and realized that really it was not about me so much as it was about his perception of the subject/activity that he made a rude/insensitive comment about. I also know he’s the type to avoid confrontations/drama so it wasn’t likely he’d be approaching me to resolve things. I thought it over in view of Ken’s article and realized I didn’t really need to take offence at the comment but rather consider it a hang-up of his and accept that. I figure what I will do is have a conversation with him at a later time about the reason for the comment but without taking offence to it. So we’ll see how it goes. :)

  20. meditation guru
    November 10, 2012

    Hello Ken, nice article. We easily get offended because we all have a self image. This self image is built up by huge collection of past memories. Thoughts and images moving speedily gives an illusion of solid existence of ‘me’ or an ‘ego’. This ego or me easily get offended.

    When a person starts living in the present moment then there is no ego. Then you can freshly look at every situation, statement or comment. Then there is no ego (which is a huge collection of past memories) to get hurt or offended.
    meditation guru recently posted … How to control anger?My Profile

  21. Austin
    March 16, 2013

    Being so sensitive has always kept me from making friends and having a social life.

    Thanks for the tips.

    • Ken Wert
      April 23, 2013

      Hey there, Austin.

      Being overly sensitive can be a problem when just about everything others say with innocent intent is taken badly.

      The good news is that brains are very reprogrammable. So have fun reprogramming yours to let you have more happiness.

  22. Sunny
    April 16, 2013

    Great stuff! This shall come handy. I hope I can embed this in my thought process so that my mind gets used to dancing to such tips.

    • Ken Wert
      April 23, 2013

      Me too, Sunny. One of the fascinating things about the human brain is its gullibility. What I mean is that when we imagine ourselves acting out the healthier mindsets and attitudes, we fool ourselves into thinking we are actually living out the imagined responses. This way, we can practice our way into embedding the qualities and thought processes I talked about with so much more speed and efficiency.

  23. Carolina
    April 30, 2013

    Hi Ken,
    Just found your blog and this post is my first read. Thank you for all the good points. This will definitely help me out.
    I tend to be too conscious of not offending people or making people feel like they couldn’t have figured out something for themselves. So when someone corrects me right away or doesn’t give me a chance to learn something on my own I get easily offended but I just have to think about some of these points. They mean well in trying to help and I just have to let it be so. The thing is, it is so hard for me to put on a happy/neutral face. I’m definitely working on just taking things for what they are and not taking things so personally.

    • Ken Wert
      May 3, 2013

      Welcome to my home-away-from-home, Carolina! I’m thrilled you found something useful here.

      Sometimes we over-complicate things. Perhaps the best strategy is to work on seeing the good intentions of those helping. But maybe it’s as simple as letting people know when you want to figure things out on your own. Then they can back off and let you come up with the solutions.

      But whatever you do, just remember to have fun. Resist the inclination to take your own shortcomings or idiosyncrasies too seriously.

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Carolina. It’s very much appreciated. :)

  24. John Welth
    June 6, 2013

    Hi Ken,

    This is my first comment. Well done for your blog!

    May I add
    11. Try to think in the position of the (one you perceive as the) offender. Usually people tend to do the best they can an are nice people. But sometimes, people often unsecured will offend others. By doing so, you will realize there is no reason for you “feeling” offended. “Accept the difficulty of a situation, but not its permanence.”

    All the best,


    • Ken Wert
      July 7, 2013

      Hey John, so glad you offered an 11th idea here. I agree with your perception that people usually try to do their best, to put ourselves in their shoes and try to imagine where they are coming from.

      I know a few people with Aspergers syndrome. One of the symptoms is they don’t know how to socially regulate themselves and say things abruptly and often in ways that are considered rude. Knowing they have Aspergers changes how I take their comments entirely. So you make a powerful point here, John. Thanks so much for pointing that out.

      (ps: sorry for the delayed reply!)

  25. carry grant
    July 7, 2013

    Do be this, don’t be that. Modify your personality so that you will be ‘acceptable’ to everyone. Smile and ‘be’ happy. Right… sure. Perhaps this kind of trash works for women. But for men it does not work. I will not change who I am in order to be accepted by others. Nor will I suspend logic for the sake of appearing less threatening or ‘angry’. This kind of western psychological nonsense is one of the great diseases of the west. It only helps to undermine our understanding of life and ourselves. This sort of one size fits all mentality is surely the product of an image based society. Individuality doesn’t exist here! Men are used to being told how to live their lives in order to be ‘acceptable’ unusually to women. Every man must be a picture of perfection or risk being socially isolated and rejected forever. Change who you are in order to find love, ‘success’ and ‘joy’. Be any and everything other than yourself. That’s the message. It’s sick. I reject this article absolutely. Pure trash. I am happy being who I am!

    • Ken Wert
      July 7, 2013

      Are you easily offended? Do people walk on eggshells around you? Do you blow up at the drop of a hat? Do you walk around looking for something to be angry about? Do you hold on to anger and let it fester and stew? If so, you are not happy. By definition, you can’t be happy. Or at least your happiness is significantly impaired and compromised. Regular and easily provoked anger MEANS unhappiness.

      If, on the other hand, the scenario I just described is NOT you, then what are you talking about? If someone is depressed or filled with anxiety, guess what: Change is the ONLY way to stop being depressed and anxious. If someone is seriously overweight and riddled with lifestyle-induced health problems, guess what again! ONLY changing ones behavior and mindset will do ANYTHING about long-term improvement.

      It is an immature mind that demands love and happiness and a wonderful life by virtue of the world conforming to them rather than having to actually DO anything about it. And it has nothing to do with the west. If you want to play the guitar you have to change your behavior by practicing, learning, growing until you can call yourself a musician. Doing what you’ve always done before playing the guitar will NEVER produce the ability to play, whether you live in the west or any other part of the globe.

      The same goes for ANYTHING, whether we’re talking about playing a sport, learning a martial art, programming a computer, designing a house, teaching a class, making friends or leading a happier life. A life without change is a life without growth or improvement. It’s like an athlete throwing up his hands and saying “I want to run faster but I don’t want to change the way I run! Make me faster, coach, but make me faster by helping me do the same thing I’ve always done!”

      Well guess what, my friend: That is a recipe for the same old thing you’ve always had! I started this article by asking the reader about their hypersensitivity. I asked if they frequently take things the wrong way or blow things out of proportion or are considered high maintenance. If they are not, this article does not apply to them–only to those who are easily offended and whose hyper sensitivity to offense is getting in the way of their happiness.

      What would you propose someone do who IS in fact so easily offended that everyone around them feels like they can’t be THEMselves? Do you have a “screw them” attitude? “I’ll be whoever the hell I want to be and damn the world around me if they don’t like it?” If so, the issue is more one of maturity than anything else.

      All of life is about change. The world changes. Life evolves. Children change into adolescents who change into adults. Those who “grow up” and set their feet in cement refusing to grow anymore condemn themselves to an emotionally sedentary life.

      Your comment actually makes me sad more than anything. I wonder how many people feel the way you do. How many people’s marriages are in shambles, whose lives are upside down, whose finances are under water, whose careers are going nowhere, whose happiness hides in the shadows, whose well-being has stagnated somewhere on the road of mediocrity or worse, and they make it a statement of pride that they will not bend for anyone, who foolishly demand life adapt to their lifestyle, personality and character, who stand firm in the sand of stupidity and continue doing what they’ve always done, continuing to get what they’ve always got, frustrated, broken and too proud and ego-driven to lift a finger for themselves to do anything of value to change things.

      If you’re already happy and are not easily offended, then your comment makes no sense, unless, of course, you just think no one else should live the way happy people live. Perhaps you ARE happy but you think everyone should be happy as they are, without having to do or think or believe or in any other way become what creates happiness. Do you think though processes, attitudes, behavior, character and the like have no bearing on happiness? Do you think someone CAN be easily offended. angry, proud, selfish, hateful, cruel, mean and hold grudges AND be as happy as those who don’t?

      If not, then the ONLY way to grow happiness is to change those qualities and characteristics that, by definition, are holding happiness down. You say men are used to being told how to live their lives. We all are. Children, men, women, everyone. Religion tells us. Law tells us. Friends tell us. If I’m a jerk to a friend and he has any self respect at all, he will tell me to stop. Culture, society, everything everywhere tells us how to live. Psychologists, philosophers, history even implies how we should live. It shows what some lifestyles and attitudes and belief systems lead to (Nazism and communism paint an altogether different picture of life than democracy and freedom, for instance). Sometimes we just need to grow up and stop whining about what “everyone” is telling us and start looking for what will improve our lives.

      It’s like a student taking a test who asks his teacher for help. The teacher offers the correct answer and the student responds by telling the teacher to stop telling him what to do. Really? What I did was to offer ideas for those who are already looking for ways to stop getting so easily offended. If they don;t get easily offended, more power to them. But those who want to stop, here are some things to try. N o one typing “How can I stay the way I am” in Google will ever be led to my site. Only those who are looking for themselves for a way to grow.

      Or do you propose a world where no one ever grows. They just accept themselves as they are, no need to change. Doesn’t matter if you’re rude or verbally abusive, or depressed or hateful or vengeful or ignorant or cowardly or a cheat or liar or snotty or offensive or unhappy. Just be. Don’t strive to become anything. Just be. Don’t alter your perception or attitude, just be. Let the world give you happiness even though you do nothing to produce it. Don’t have to bake a cake to have it. Just have it. No need to change your swing, just be a better golfer. It’s your manly right to offend everyone, make other people’s lives miserable because you are always on the edge of offense, just have good relationships. No need to learn or challenge yourself. Just be who you are, even if who you are keeps you unhappy, lost, lonely, anxious, angry and living a life south of what it could fairly easily be with just a few attitudinal tweaks here and there.

      That, to me, is a very pitiable and sad life. Not that people are unhappy. I don’t pity them. I pity those who are unhappy and refuse to do anything about their unhappiness, who demand the world just shut up and make them happy by accepting them in all their manly misbehavior. Prison, by the way, is filled with people who refuse to comport to society. Total comportment is not what I would ever urge on anyone. But total rejection is just as self-defeating.

      Anyway, I am curious to know how you would respond to what I’ve said here. Sorry about the length. I hope you take a moment to think about my reply and offer a thoughtful response. I look forward to it.

  26. Hayley
    July 30, 2013

    Hi Ken,

    I find your article very helpful and very much what I was looking for. I find that I’m usually quite sensitive to the slightest things. Someone failing to respond, or a lack of attention from an expected source. My first response is to push not just that one person away, but everyone. I wonder if your list will help, to not just re-adjust my thinking, but to also take away the constant sting that seems to accompany it?

    Thanks again for posting this!

    • Ken Wert
      August 21, 2013

      It’s my pleasure, Hayley. Thank you so much for your honesty and desire to do something about it. I do believe a real and consistent effort can truly produce the changes you’re looking for. As you experiment with the ideas, keep two things in mind:

      1. Not all steps will work equally well for each person. Look through the list and try the ones that feel best to you first.

      2. You may have taken years to develop the kind of hypersensitivity to things you currently have to deal with, so try to avoid getting discouraged if things don’t change overnight. Keep at it. Personal growth can last a lifetime. So stay with it and have fun int he process. Avoid self-condemnation when you stumble. Just take it a day and a step at a time.

      Thanks again, Hayley. Let me know how it goes!

  27. Linda
    August 31, 2013

    Hi, Ken,

    First-time reader here. I love your list and find every item right on the money. I had an experience a couple of hours ago that caused unexpected pain (and is the reason for me seeking out your blog in the first place) and made me realize that I still have some healing to do in regards to my now-dissolved marriage of 29 years (it was dissolved two years ago). My ex was very easily offended by many, many things and was one of those who demanded I change my way of being to suit his sensitivities. As a result, I was always walking on eggshells, and that is no way to live. In one of your responses, you mentioned how some people use this as emotional bullying, and wow, that is exactly right, even if the person isn’t doing it on purpose.

    All this to say, the experience I had a couple hours ago brought me right back to what my ex used to do to me and it was like I got the wind knocked out of me. The dissonance is remarkable…how something I said can be so misconstrued that it has no resemblance whatsoever to my intent and I am left perplexed. I immediately recognized it for what it was and will now distance myself from this person. I feel very sorry for him, as I know he is very unhappy, but I just can’t deal with another person who I believe may have a personality disorder (there are other evidences).

    How do I heal from the pain of having lived with a person like this for so long? What changes in the way I think can I make in regards to any possible future incidents like this?

    Thank you, Ken. I hope you are still reading these comments. I know it’s been a long time since you originally posted this article.

  28. M Joy Vitale
    September 12, 2013

    Thank you for this. It is helping with deepening my Buddhist practice!!

    • Ken Wert
      September 16, 2013

      I’m thrilled to have been of help, Joy.

  29. Guy Buncombe
    September 16, 2013

    Dear Ken
    My name is Guy Buncombe. I’m the director of a firm of headhunters in the UK specialising in placing professionals in the scientific and medical fields worldwide. Every month I send a newletter (Hotsheet) to several thousand subscribers with a few items of interest, latest jobs, hot candidates etc. I found your article very interesting and I’d like to include it in my next edition, with your permission. I’d acknowledge you personally, and include a link to your website of course.
    If you’d rather I didn’t, this would be no problem, and I wish you well in any case. Kind regards, Guy.

    • Ken Wert
      September 16, 2013

      Sounds like you’re doing some exciting work, Guy. I would be honored to have the post featured in your newsletter. I hope it proves helpful to your subscribers.

  30. Hastings
    October 5, 2013

    Wow, these were so very extreeemely healthy! #10 is a big one! #6, for me, also. :-D

    • Ken Wert
      October 25, 2013

      Thanks for saying so, Hastings. I appreciate the share.

  31. custom essay writing
    October 19, 2013

    10 Ways You Can Stop Being this is what i want keep it up

    • Ken Wert
      October 25, 2013

      Emotional maturity can be difficult, especially if we weren’t raised to be emotionally mature. But we do all want that in our lives, don’t we. The alternative is emotional turmoil and instability.

  32. Silk
    November 18, 2013

    Ken, I just found your page tonight by accident and I will tell you that this article was very timely. I was very hurt/offended by something someone dear said to me in texts yesterday and had stopped talking to them after their only response was “just saying” when I said the comment was unkind. I have actually cried about the whole thing and spent the whole day missing them and sure this was the end of things (because they tend to run away rather than face emotional issues.) After reading your article tonight, it really put things into a new perspective and I decided to not be offended but maybe consider that they had a reason for saying what they did even if I don’t agree or understand it. I know they care about me and therefore I don’t believe they truly meant to hurt or offend me. But it took reading your article to remind me of that so thank you so much! I just texted him back and we are talking again. :)

    • Ken Wert
      November 18, 2013

      So glad you were able to stumble upon my work here, Silk! What a great comment–you made my day! Offense is easy. Letting real or perceived offenses go takes a degree of maturity too many people don’t have. So glad to hear you fall into the category of the emotionally mature. Congratulations on being able to take that step and reach out to your friend and heal the relationship. That requires a lot of internal strength, Silk.

      Thanks so much for sharing this with me.

  33. A reader
    November 28, 2013

    Just so amazing, the article helped ALOT. Many sincere thanks to you!

    • Ken Wert
      March 11, 2014

      I’m thrilled it helped!

  34. nita
    February 27, 2014

    Excellent excellent excellent!!!!

    • Ken Wert
      March 12, 2014

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

  35. Caroline
    March 10, 2014

    How do u stop a 34 year old from getting emotionally upset at someone comment on someone’s self image.and there friendship.i have passed a comment to the adult but got no response why?

    • Ken Wert
      March 11, 2014

      Hi Caroline,

      Well, bottom line is that you can’t stop someone from reacting to a certain event in a certain way. You can’t stop anyone from responding to life in one way or the other, for that matter. You can slowly (and I mean REAL slowly) teach them by word and deed that there are better ways of responding to life’s challenges, but ultimately (and this is what this post is about) the only person you have much influence over is you.

      If someone else is easily offended by things, we have to make sure we’re not getting easily offended at their offense, or we all end up in the same emotionally rocky boat, frantically paddling and getting nowhere.

  36. Como Ganhar Dinheiro
    March 12, 2014

    “Put yourself on the shoes of the other”
    Sometimes I forget about that.

    Some people are just too unhappy in their lives, and they try to make other people low to their own levels, we should try our best to have compassion of these people.
    Como Ganhar Dinheiro recently posted … FacebookMy Profile

  37. pradeep
    March 13, 2014

    hey ken, the stuff you posted is very impressive. Now, when someone offends me,with words and then I know its not right, how can I be thick skinned. Off course it may not be true as of what they said, but what they said is said right. For example, a teacher says “you are an idiot”. It may not be true but the student takes everything what the teacher says. The words will surely have an impact and sequence of such words would make the student believe that he’s an idiot right? Everyone has a moral standard and are entitled to have their own standard. If an irresponsible word can change one’s course of life, then I tend to believe its an injustice happened to him right. If you start thinking at the other person’s point of view, it becomes a habit and one would end up in doubting his own moral values. There is also a magical thought, that one would end up in the uncritical admiration of the offender’s thought. This would make one weaker right? Your reply would will greatly appreciated.

    • Ken Wert
      July 10, 2014

      Sorry for the delayed reply here, pradeep. But let me give it a go.

      1. You seem to have focused entirely on just one of the 10 points I made. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes only allows you to see things from their perspective. But I also suggest (#10) that we learn to accept ourselves and not become slaves to others’ opinions about us.

      2. To put ourselves in others’ shoes only opens us to their perspective. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I accept or uncritically admire their perspective. I can see things from an atheist’s point of view without becoming one, after all.

      3. If a child was told he was an idiot by a teacher, there would presumably be 5 other teachers (middle or high school) and several other years of teachers (elementary school) who didn’t call him an idiot. Still, one teacher certainly can do damage. But my article is about not being easily offended. I would be offended if a teacher called my son an idiot. That’s not unreasonable offense. I’m only providing ways people who are hypersensitive can avoid the unhappiness that comes with their sensitivity to others’ criticisms.

      4. Besides, who would be less affected by an idiot teacher calling him names? A child who is hypersensitive to others’ comments or one who is not easily offended? It seems to me that it is the one who is difficult to offend that would most likely blow off what the teacher said to him.

      5. I agree with you that we all have the freedom to hold whatever moral values we want to hold. But some values are better than others (valuing revenge is not as worthy as valuing forgiveness, for instance). If someone criticizes my values, I can easily reject their opinion. But if I repeatedly get criticized for my values, it would be wise of me to reevaluate those values.

      Great challenge, pradeep. I would love to know what you think of my reply. Promise not to go so long before I reply back! ;)

  38. Yassin Madwin
    April 19, 2014

    NLP principles help so much here, disassociation, the map is not the territory and perception is projection. these notions will help anyone consciously seize criticism and makes out something positive from it.

  39. Beck
    June 3, 2014

    #10 really helped me. I think self-acceptance is the key. This is the most difficult for the many people who have been abused – especially if it started in childhood as mine did, from an older sister. Consistent abuse in childhood can set in motion a pattern of bad choices because you don’t believe you deserve any better, which in turn causes anger and depression (which is really anger about things you feel you have no control over.)

  40. jay
    July 1, 2014

    Nice site. I’ve been especially sensitive to the slightest real or imagined slight since from my spouse or others since becoming middle aged and jobless for months. When I feel slighted I withdraw verbally, and from others, and just wallow in my feelings. I don’t want the feelings caused by my over-sensitivity, and they make my other-wise mostly real world become cloudy and helpless. I’m typically upbeat and loving, and have a great family. It’s interesting how I never realized I needed a role (my profession/job) in order to define myself and this seemed to help me react, mostly normally, to slights. Without the role/job I feel my emotions tumble easily, now. I know that anyone could be depressed at my stage, but isn’t it something that some of us need the external to prop us up on the inside. Now, I almost feel like a teenager beginning a new life, learning life without a prop or definition, other than I’m just me now. I obviously need to find my core/footing/place without ruining any important relationships with any over-sensitivity displays. I have a great supporting partner, and don’t want to distract from our happy family life. I’ll just continue to be as in touch with my real feelings as possible, and hopefully diffuse the negative ones. Yet another journey.

  41. Commenter
    September 2, 2014

    Hello ken..i read your blog for the first time while searching for something that could help me get past my negative feelings. I am very easily offended, i expect alot fom anyone ofcourse because i think im always helping people even if they dont want it..and then i always think about the cold response someone has given me and the negative thing someone has said to me. I know i shouldnt expect things from anyone but i do i cant help it. And i get offended very easily..how can i overcome it.

  42. Christina
    September 3, 2014

    This one reply hit me, by Beck:

    “#10 really helped me. I think self-acceptance is the key. This is the most difficult for the many people who have been abused – especially if it started in childhood as mine did, from an older sister. Consistent abuse in childhood can set in motion a pattern of bad choices because you don’t believe you deserve any better, which in turn causes anger and depression (which is really anger about things you feel you have no control over.)”

    I was raised with conditional love with a father that expected perfection and nothing I ever did was “enough”. I am now 55 and still, in spite of therapy over the years, have those feelings of inadequacy always simmering right under the surface. It doesn’t help, either that I was treated the same way by an ex-husband and my adult bi-polar son. Though I am a successful business women and have a lot of things going for me, my self-esteem is in the toilet.

    I am easily offended because anything rude, negative or critical someone says to me transports me instantly back to my childhood. Sometimes even the littlest thing will do it. It’s almost a PTSD thing. Some days I handle it better than others. I know that means people walk around on eggshells with me and I hate the thought. I try like crazy to NOT feel this way, but it seems inbred.

    My current, and usually wonderful, husband of 12 years, a retired Marine, is dealing with lots of physical pain – he’s had four surgeries since we married and is scheduled for two more. He sucks it up and still works and travels even in pain. I try to be understanding of him, but he has become a grumpy old man and verbally lashes out at me whenever I offer to help him, suggest something fun to do, whatever. Or he just grunts a blunt reply. I know he’s in a bad place, but can’t he be nice and let’s work together on it? If I say anything about it he just says “don’t feel that way” or “grow a thicker skin”.

    I feel like I am back at 5 years old, myself walking on eggshells attempting the impossible task of trying to please and be accepted for who I am. It perpetuates the simmering just under the surface feelings of inadequacy, shame and dread.

    Not quite sure how to “accept myself” when so many others don’t accept me?

  43. Pack Of Llamas
    September 13, 2014

    11: Have a freaking sense of humor

  44. Chris
    November 3, 2014

    We’ve all seen how people seem to be offended by basically anything nowadays, but there’s a few things I can’t help but notice. First off, it seems like certain things people will go on & on about being offensive on the internet, they don’t in real life. Pick any topic in the world, & I guarantee you you’ll find some overly PC blogger that’s written some 10 page essay about how ‘problematic’ it is (that’s overly PC blogger’s and SJW’s most favorite word in the whole world, & often times it becomes a contest of who can overuse it the most). Yet in real life, no one seems bothered by it. Another thing is that I’ve noticed that it’ll become trendy to be offended by certain things. It seems that certain things people will yell & scream about in droves, no one was yelling & screaming about it til it became trendy to do so. And again, it’s often times on the internet. And IMO, I think that the majority of the time, the person probably isn’t even truly offended, they just jump on people almost without even thinking about it, usually because of their own self-righteous ego. If you ever read any sort of argument or debate on the internet, that’s generally what you’ll see, is a bunch of clashing egos all trying to prove how ‘right’ they are, having pissing contests. They often times will try to claim they’re trying to ‘educate’ people, but come on now, it’s obvious that they’re just trying to feed their ego with how righteous they think they’re being. Because common sense pretty much dictates that you’re not going to get a favorable reaction from people if you act pretentious, condescending, holier-than-thou, elitist, patronizing, or any of the other adjectives that could describe the people that seem to find everything offensive. Ironically, many of these people, if you were to ask them point blank ‘do you agree with censorship’, they’d be like ‘goodness, no!’. Yet they seem to want everything they find ‘problematic’ (which is basically anything that doesn’t fit in with their opinions) taken down or censored. It’s ridiculous. People have gotten to the point where they just care way too much about what other people say and think.

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