15 Comments

It’s Not About You, Princess

Pictured: Anne Hathaway stars as Mia in Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.In the news a lot lately about how someone is offended by this or that, or we should go out of our way not to offend someone or other for this or that reason. Recently, a restaurant took down a picture of bacon because a Muslim woman said she was offended by the image. Just yesterday there was a snippet about a military veteran who was not allowed to walk his daughter into school because his uniform might offend some of the students (no thought was given to how that might offend the army officer, but that’s a different rant). People are accused of racism or bigotry or any number of things if they disagree with someone who is different from them.

I’ve had several experiences over the last several years where I did something (or didn’t do something) and someone was horribly offended by it. I forgot a meeting and the person running it couldn’t understand why I didn’t prioritize it and really took it personally, assuming it meant I didn’t care about them or what they were trying to accomplish by missing the meeting. I’ve said things that were totally innocuous and had people assume I meant something insulting by it. I never received something someone sent me, and found out later they were horribly offended that I didn’t respond.

Rather than assuming the best, people tend to assume the worst. Rather than assuming, “she has a lot on her plate, maybe she just forgot,” they assume “she slighted me on purpose.” Rather than assuming, “what she said could’ve been meant in a lot of ways, she was probably just trying to be funny,” they assume, “she’s rude and insensitive.” Rather than assuming, “I should ask if she received what I sent,” they assume, “she’s ungrateful.”

I know we all have a tendency to be egocentric and take offense where none is intended, myself included, but here’s the thing:

DON’T.

all about meIt’s not about you. The universe does not revolve around you. People are not, as a rule, setting out to attack you. Sure, there are the occasional jerks who are so miserable that they feel the need to make everyone around them miserable as well, but for the most part, people are just trying to get along the best that they can. Not everything is a personal affront.

I posted on my Facebook page awhile ago that after my baby was born, a lady came up to me and said, “I didn’t even know you were expecting, I just thought you were gaining weight.” Now, I could have chosen to be offended by that. It was an insensitive thing to say, a foot-in-mouth, no-filter sort of moment. But I didn’t. I realized that she wasn’t making a comment about my weight, she was registering genuine surprise that she’d been out of the loop for the last nine months. She wasn’t being rude, she was just talking.

So, my point, don’t take everything personally. Don’t assume the worst about people. Don’t get your feelings hurt over every little thing. Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean they’re being offensive toward you. Whatever someone says or does that is “offensive” probably isn’t. They had a rough day. They didn’t think before they spoke. They didn’t realize something was as important to you as it was. They were so busy trying to make sense of their own lives that they didn’t have the energy to think about yours.

So stop. Stop getting offended. Stop being the person that people have to walk on eggshells around. Stop getting offended that people disagree with you or live differently than you. To quote one of my favorite lines from Buffy, “Get over it. Whatever it is that’s causing the Joan Collins ‘tude, deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it.”

Start assuming the best. Start seeing people as generally good and thoughtful. Start seeing the humor in situations. Start embracing people in all their flaws. Start giving the grace you wish they’d extend to you.

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About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

15 comments on “It’s Not About You, Princess

  1. I’ve noticed an interesting trend and I wonder if you’ve noticed it too. Whatever is overemphasized in human relationships or human nature becomes its opposite, yes? (Ascribed to both Carl Jung and someone who may have stolen the comment from Jung: “What you resist, persists.” That’s the same idea.)

    So starting about 1960 (to the year, posits the book SLOUCHING TOWARDS GOMORRAH), we’ve had effectively an overemphasis on “Blessed are the peacemakers” in society at large. It seems the results have been first, pursuing peace at any price; then, “political correctness”; then, either as a result or as concurrent, the backlash into the exact opposite of making peace, with everybody getting offended at everybody else on the slightest of pretexts.

    Does this make any sense to you? To others?

    • Interesting. I don’t know if I’ve thought of it in those terms, but I have noticed for sure the trend to be so careful not to give any offense ever that you end up offending, because, obviously, you can’t please everyone, so when you go too far in one direction you end up offending someone in the other.

    • Guess what I found? One of the pages of NAF with all the comments on it. In fact a couple other people were cautioning her to not go to extremes. I didn’t see those comments when i was leaving my own. So don’t know when they came in. Still on the other NAF link it only had two likes and one was from Avily herself. No comments on that one at all. Don’t know except by perceiving that I would check again. Hope you get this John.

  2. Hear, hear, Avily!

    (And an interesting observation, John!)

  3. I believe you have to live your life with humility as opposed to sticking your index finger in your belly button and proclaiming it the center of the universe.

    But being humble doesn’t mean you think less of yourself or is a form of weakness as some might be apt to interpret. Rather, it simply means you think of yourself less often. Living with humility and selflessness means embracing a never-ending commitment to an other-oriented point of view. It’s putting others first and yourself second.

    • The best definition of humility – OK, the second best, the first is coming up – was given by someone who thought (for some really strange reason) that I was a humble person. After looking at her as if she had two heads, I asked her why she thought that. She replied, “You know what you are, what God is, and the VAST DIFFERENCE between the two.”

      Knowing what little I do of that VAST DIFFFERENCE, I often reflect, is the one and only thing that keeps me from planting the Center of the Universe Flag on my own navel. 😀 Sometimes I really hate being human!

      But here’s a two-parter: the best definition of humility I know of…

      (Isaiah 66:2 RSV) “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”
      (Matthew 5:3 RSV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

      • Guess what I found? One of the pages of NAF with all the comments on it. In fact a couple other people were cautioning her to not go to extremes. I didn’t see those comments when i was leaving my own. So don’t know when they came in. Still on the
        other NAF link it only had two likes and one was from Avily herself. No comments on that one at all. Don’t know except by perceiving that I would check again. Hope you get this John. Also didn’t see your last comment about the navel thing. And the subject of humility. One needs to be careful to not use inciting comments that she used and expect that people won’t perceive an anterior motive.I have read a number of blogs here without ever commenting. So the evidence of my tract record would not be linked to this as experience here. The personality type is the same John and as you pointed out is why you didn’t see some things in the post that make as much sense as I pointed out to you. Anyway, I had to speak as to the heart of motive. And I stand on what I still perceive.

  4. Wow, quite a passionate post!

    I did enjoy it, but please be careful not to take it to extremes. This seems to put all the responsibility of sensitivity on the part of the receiver, when communication is a two-way street. Yes, our society has become hyper-sensitive about capricious things, and yes, it’s very easy to pull those out and hang them up to mock or rail against.

    However, does that mean that words don’t hurt? That lateness doesn’t hurt? If someone accidentally bumps into you and trips you–should you just deny the pain and laugh? Where is the line drawn between an accident and abuse? Or is that just kind of a ‘duh’ thing?

    I understand as Christians we are called to “turn the other cheek” but at the same time, if someone is saying or doing something that is genuinely hurtful, shouldn’t you let them know? Or at least acknowledge the pain, in order to get over it and forgive?

    I think forgiveness is the key factor here, and it’s the one thing your otherwise excellent post was missing for me. It’s all too easy to “brush things off” while still holding in real pain or anger. Perhaps some personalities can just laugh off everything, but for those people who are sensitive, just throwing a “get over it” in their face isn’t helping matters. It either antagonizes, or it causes internalization and bitterness. Instead, feel the anger or pain for a moment, then ask God to give peace and clarity in the situation, and His grace for everyone involved.

    • I wasn’t saying anything about people who genuinely do cause hurt. That’s another topic entirely. Sometimes people really are mean and certainly you should acknowledge that and work through it, but that isn’t what this was about. This was about not taking offense when offense is not intended and not assuming people are out to get you when they’re not.

  5. Everybody needs to put on their big-kid panties. Being offended won’t kill you. You might even learn from it.

  6. Hello ladies and gents. I have only been coming here for a short time. It was to followu John’s writings. We presently are working on a story line together. That gives you some background. I found most posts here interesting but am still going to comment to one you wrote Avily on ” You don’t get to choose.” There are a number of inconsistencies not based on the Inspired Word. The contextual incongruities are enough to create a response that may help you. There is only one Truth and it seems to get translated into many religions of man’s making.
    I do agree the world is more hypersensitive and that is largely due to man’s turning his back to God and the end results are quite obvious in the increasing destruction of the world and people. As the world grows worse so will people’s ability to cope in ways that once in the world was easier. The stressors were less. Life was easier.And as we have compromised God’s laws, it shows in the attitudes and behaviors that Revelation speaks of.There will reach a point where it will be impossible to not offend or be offended. I agree that we all need to consider what possibly another is going through and find a place of peace without sacrificing our morals and God’s law.
    No one ever does this without some error.
    But I found your post interesting from the standpoint of how you try to convince us of your ability to be even tempered and do not offend others or try to. And that is good, except my scholastic background in Psychology, Abnormal Psych and health and human behavior speaks loudly of things and attitudes that jump off your post and first comment. First your title of your post, ” Its not about you princess,” It seems you made a special point of using a title that incites people to agree from your perspective and also incites negative responses by the demeaning and belittling title. Your attitude of being offensive just by your title says much about having an air of insulting another who might be reading or is insulted by that title. It takes on an attitude of belittling. For someone trying to convince us she does not offend, you do and by your air forces another to not challenge you. Then the first reply you left that started with “Interesting,” is also a statement that in running together, denotes someone who is exasperated. It denotes a degree of anxiety; which reflects in saying the whole paragraph in one breathe. Then you seem to rally others around you for needing to be right. Did you ever thnk that someone might need to feel what they feel? Would you prefer a phony? And we can’t all expect from others o be who we are for the reasons we do something.Someone might be having tremendous pain or grieving. Trray to not demean others in your attitude as you realizing that we are all different. You offend others in ways just like what you wrote.
    Yes I wish the world would find a middle place, but in this kingdom it shall not.
    Yiraela

    • Greetings
      I’m not sure I understand what you were trying to say about my other post, but that’s a different discussion.
      First off, I never claimed to be even-tempered or non-offensive. I clearly stated that I have unintentionally offended people. The point was that it was unintentional. You haven’t been following this blog long, or you would know that much of the time I am very open and real about my own struggles, and most of the times when I write something calling others to action it’s because it’s something that I struggle with myself, so it is a call to myself above everyone else.
      Second, you cite your extensive scholastic background in psychology as a valid basis for making a host of assumptions about me, my motives, and my character. I, too, have a background in psychology and my conclusion is very different–I am very aware that I don’t know people’s motives or where they’re coming from, which is why I encourage taking a step back and not assuming the worst and ascribing ill motives to others. Yes, my title was intentionally antagonistic. It was meant to cause people to take a look at their own attitudes and whether or not they’re behaving like a princess. All people, myself included, tend toward egocentricity, which is why it’s so important to take a step back and consider that most of the time, people’s offenses are unintentional. Certainly people are entitled to their feelings. We are emotional beings, and of course we get our feelings hurt, many times legitimately so. As I acknowledged above, it is absolutely appropriate to go to someone who has hurt you and talk it out and mend the relationship. However, this post was not intended to be a treatise on every human interaction ever, it was simply one aspect of interpersonal relationships, namely not taking offense where none is intended and not being so quick to assume negative motives from others.
      Then, you ascribe all sorts of meaning to my use of the word “interesting,” which in iteslf is interesting, as you began your paragraph with that same word. You say I’m “belittling” and assume I’m “exasperated” and have “anxiety” and I “need to be right” when, in reality, I actually just thought it was interesting and I hadn’t heard that thought expressed in quite that way. Your entire diatribe was ascribing ill motives and demeaning attitudes to me where there were none.

  7. Preach it. This thinned-skinned narcissism gets old.

    • Think we still have freedom of speech? No I haven’t been commenting here long. I have read posts here from a time back now. If you can speak your mind so can others. I was merely pointing to a side that was not only my point but someone else’s as well.

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