President Brigham Young, the Mormon Prophet, once compared being offended to a poisonous snakebite. He said that “there are two courses of action to follow when one is bitten by a rattlesnake. One may, in anger, fear, or vengefulness, pursue the creature and kill it. Or he may make full haste to get the venom out of his system.” He said, “If we pursue the latter course we will likely survive, but if we attempt to follow the former, we may not be around long enough to finish it.”
I was thinking about this advice today when I felt offended, even hurt, over a miscommunication which had occurred with a friend. I won’t get into the details but suffice it to say a mistake I had made was criticized, and I was upset over the manner of the critique. After the initial disagreement I sat fuming and crying. “How dare they treat me like this?” There was even a side of me that thought “Just wait until they mess up, and I will show them how it feels”.
Naturally these were initial childish reactions, and they quickly passed. After a few minutes I was able to calm down and analyze the situation. I realized I had several options available:
1. I could call back in a huff and let my anger out.
2. I could ignore the problem and let it simmer.
3. I could call and discuss my feelings and reconcile.
I chose the latter option. I called this friend and explained (with some tears!) that I accepted the content of their suggestions but the tone offended me. I told them of my hurt feelings. As one might expect, they felt bad and said they did not mean to come across with that tone.
In the end, we were able to communicate and our relationship is better as a result. This experience taught me a lesson. Usually there is a productive way to express feelings instead of being offended or allowing hurt to well up until it explodes. Believe me, I have learned the hard way that the other options lead to more pain and more ulcers!
Most people are trying to be good, non-offensive folks. Sometimes the words, and the manner of those words get in the way. Like Brigham said finding ways to not be offended saves our lives from the poison of anger and bitterness.
On a slightly different note- thank you for the positive feedback on my blog. I was just at an enrichment activity and someone mentioned how much they enjoy reading it. Comments like that build me up and make me feel my small efforts are valued. Thanks.