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I have realized that no one can make me or you react. It is a choice we make. However, most of us fail to respond in a positive way most of the time because it is out of an old pattern or habits that we developed as a child. An offense is simply “a bait.” When you take the bait of somebody else’s criticisms the response would then be getting offended. So, let’s discuss the difference between reacting vs. responding.

Reacting vs Responding

Reacting and responding are two different ways of dealing with conflict. To react is “to behave or reply or done in impulsive without putting much thought into it.” We normally react based on people’s opinions, stares, demeanor & perceptions. We respond based on our perception. We give our power away when we choose to react than respond. Reacting is for most of us is our way of dealing with conflict. Most of us grew up never been taught how to self-regulate and managed our emotions. We were never taught how to think first before speaking and how to govern our emotions. In the same way, our emotions influence our words. Now let’s talk about responding. A response is “given much thought and done with reasoning.” Simply put, you think first before you speak. You are more logical than emotional.

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For a man thinks so is he. - Prov. 23:7

Whatever we think or ponder throughout the day or throughout our lives has an impact on how we feel and how we speak about ourselves and about others. According to Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not hasten in your heart to be angry for anger rests in the bosom of fools.” How many of us don’t think clearly when we are too emotional especially when we are triggered by someone. As I’ve observed myself, I’ve started to ask the questions, “what are my triggers and where did my triggers originate from?”

Where Do Triggers Originates From?

Most of our triggers originated from our childhood memories and experiences. For example, when I was criticized about my weight that’s when I become triggered. I would wallow in self-shaming and thought something’s the matter with me. If it’s not dealt with we internalize what others said which we should not allow accepting especially when it’s demeaning. Our common response to triggers is either fight or flight. We either respond in a combative way and defend ourselves or we either ran away avoiding conflict. Suppression and running away from the situation isn’t the best way to deal with anything. The best way to deal with any situation is to let the storm pass then express how you feel.

Reasons Why We Are Easily Offended?

No one can make you feel anything without your permission. It’s actually a choice we make. No one can make me feel or think about anyone else’s treatment. It isn’t in our circumstances or how we are treated by others. It comes down to our interpretation and reaction. The reason we are easily offended is based on our paradigm or perception about another person’s opinion about us that is mostly distorted.

Mind & Brain Connection

As I’ve listened to Dr. Caroline Leaf discussed in her book Cleaning Up Our Mental Mess. Her point of view about how our thoughts can change our brain is rooted in the thoughts we contemplate. She continued saying, “our brain and our thoughts are not connected although inseparable.” Through our thoughts, we can influence our brain on how it functions well. She gave an example in her presentation that if we think negative thoughts long enough we can actually damage our brain given an analogy like a dead plant. Negative thoughts are toxic. On the other hand, if we think of positive thoughts, we can heal our brain turning it into a healthy-looking plant. And her theory is backed up by biblical principles as stated below.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything

is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Just Remember

  • Other people’s opinion is nothing to do about you. It has a lot to do about them on what they believe about themselves. Most people who are negative and have a critical spirit have nothing to do with me. It is a reflection of how they see themselves. Jesus taught his disciples that before we judge others and point out their mistakes, we must first take the speck out of our eye before we can take the speck out of somebody else’s eye. In short, correct and improve yourself first before you can enumerate somebody else’s flaws.
  • A person who has a critical spirit is either insecure or lacks self-esteem. Oftentimes, they don’t want to deal with their issues and magnify them. Therefore, it is much easier to point out your flaws. They love to tell you about what’s wrong with you that they often neglect to take accountability for their own behavior or mishaps.
  • These people have also experienced the same negative criticisms from other people that they’ve endured but never dealt with. They are also damaged as a child and told by their parents that they are no good and ultimately carried it over with them into adulthood, and inflict the same wound unto others. Therefore, the cycle never ends.

People Who Have Been Hurt

Just like myself, I have carried my past hurt from the years which I have endured abused that my marriage is greatly affected and impacted. The issues that I have never dealt with as a young child into my adulthood cause havoc with my relationship with my husband. The wrong thoughts that I have ruminating that “I am unworthy and I am not loved.” Over time, it has affected how I show up in my marriage.

Therefore, to change our outer world, we must change our inner world and the inner dialogue. The bible puts it by saying. “we must renew our minds daily.” Renewing our minds is a daily practice. It takes a lot of discipline. We can’t always believe the first thought that comes up in our minds because some of our thoughts are out of habit that we internalized. Also, there are thoughts that are not from us but some thoughts are from the devil or from the world then some words come from God himself that usually back up by His word, the bible.

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