It’s not about you, so get over yourself

Stop being offended and start living

In this age of hyper self–absorption we are all subject to the tyranny of the “offended”. Just take a look at the media. Some public person makes a well-intentioned remark or simply a joke or perhaps a video will surface from 20 years where, under the influence of alcohol or another toxic/addictive substance they said something tasteless. Now suddenly they are subject to a barrage of people who feel offended. This to my way of thinking is patently absurd. To live in a democratic society, the basis of which is freedom of speech means that we will all hear and see things that feel uncomfortable or we do not agree with.

When these persons are interviewed it becomes crashingly obvious that neither the interviewer nor the interviewed has made any attempt to read, study or understand any point of view but their own. They are profoundly ignorant of anything outside their egocentric universe. This makes any sort of informed debate impossible. Instead, we get division and tribalism where loyalty and belonging to your “tribe” becomes far more important than facts.

A friend of ours, a magazine owner once expressed it thus, “Never let a few facts get in the way of a good story”.

Being “right” becomes far more important than kindness, compassion, happiness. This is a recipe for suffering and catastrophe. The price of satisfying the egocentric need to be right is simply too high for the individual and for our survival as species.

We must learn to hold our points of view loosely, with open curiosity, without clinging. We must be flexible in our perception. Any intelligent person who is genuinely committed to their own growth is likely to change their points of view about many things probably several times.

We can only do this if we let go of the ego’s need to be right. Of course, this takes practice as  the thing ego hates most is being wrong.

When you move past the egocentric “me-centred universe”, then life really does become simpler and less stressful. To do this, the first thing you should understand is that it’s not about you. The reality is that a tiny percentage of humanity will probably always like you, and another even smaller percentage will probably always hate you. The vast majority of humanity doesn’t care at all, as they, like you, are in their own “theatre” doing their best, carrying their traumas, their pain, their hopes, wanting to be loved, sometimes feeling lost.

Make compassion your context and you won’t take things so personally. The sooner you get over yourself, the sooner you can make a useful contribution to others, be it your family, your friends or society.

Fifteen minutes of time spent really listening to another person is one of the most valuable things you can do. By that I mean listening with 100% of your attention, with your smartphone nowhere to be seen. The objective of the listening should simply be to understand. In this era of hyper-distraction, asking great questions and listening are two of the most important, valuable qualities that we possess. Think for a moment, is this not the quality we most seek in friends, partners and colleagues. Yet most people are sending the exact opposite message to friends, loved ones and society today.


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