You’ve likely encountered situations that make you feel offended or upset. Someone says something insensitive, a TV show promotes a harmful stereotype, or a policy negatively impacts a group you support. In today’s world, it’s all too easy to find things that offend us. But is taking offense always the right response?

Some argue that being overly offended is a sign of weakness or fragility. That we should develop a thicker skin and not let every little thing upset us. There is some truth to this view. Not all offensive acts are equal, and we can’t control how others behave.

However, dismissing all offense as weakness is misguided. Some acts cross moral lines and warrant criticism. Offense can also spur positive change. The ability to recognize and call out harmful behaviors is a sign of strength, not weakness. The question is not whether we should be offended, but rather how and when offense is justified and can be harnessed for good. Because sometimes some people believe that being offended is a sign of weakness.

The Rise of Outrage Culture: Why Are We So Easily Offended?

The Rise of Outrage Culture Why Are We So Easily Offended

In today’s world of social media and instant communication, it seems like outrage culture is at an all-time high. Many people seem primed to take offense at the smallest perceived slight. But is being chronically offended truly a sign of emotional sensitivity or social awareness?

Psychologists argue that those who are frequently offended may lack emotional maturity and resilience. When faced with ideas or behaviors they disagree with, they have trouble managing their emotional reactions. Rather than engage in civil discourse or agree to disagree, they demand that the offensive speech or conduct be suppressed.

Constant outrage can be exhausting and divisive. It fosters an “us vs. them” mentality and leads to further polarization. While public shaming or “canceling” those with unpopular opinions may feel good in the moment, it rarely changes minds or hearts in the long run.

Offense is often taken, not given. We each have a choice in how we interpret the words and actions of others. Instead of assuming ill intent, we can choose to be charitable and give others the benefit of the doubt. We can recognize that there are many viewpoints other than our own and that discomfort is not the same as danger.

Outrage may seem like an expression of empathy or social justice, but it is usually counterproductive. True progress depends on open-mindedness, compassion, and a willingness to understand different perspectives, not just punishing those who express views we don’t share. The perpetually offended would do well to develop thicker skins and more open minds.

Why do some people believe that being offended is a sign of weakness?

Why do some people believe that being offended is a sign of weakness
Why do some people believe that being offended is a sign of weakness?

Some believe that being offended is a sign of weakness or oversensitivity. There are a few reasons why:

  • They think people should have thicker skin and be less easily upset by words or ideas they disagree with. In their view, taking offense shows an inability to handle difficult conversations or alternative viewpoints.
  • They believe taking offense is often unintentional and that people should not assume ill intent. Instead of taking offense, they think individuals should clarify their meaning or walk away from ambiguous situations.
  • They argue that outrage and offense are manufactured for personal gain or political purposes. When offense is used as a tactic to silence others or gain power over them, it shows a lack of confidence in one’s own position or arguments.
  • However, others argue that taking offense can be a reasonable response to genuinely inappropriate, unethical, or abusive behavior. Speaking up against offensiveness that crosses the line into harm can be a sign of strength and moral conviction, not weakness.
  • They also note that the notion of “choosing” to be offended is flawed. Offense is an emotional reaction that people do not always consciously choose or have control over. Whether or not it is seen as a sign of weakness depends a lot on the context and intent.

In the end, both sides make valid points. As with many things, the healthiest approach lies somewhere in the middle: having strength of character but also empathy and giving others grace when their intent is not to offend. The ultimate sign of strength may be responding to offensiveness in a constructive way.

Offense Is Taken, Not given; It’s a choice.

Offense Is Taken, Not given; It's a choice
Offense Is Taken, Not given; It’s a choice.

Offense is a choice because no one can make you feel offended without your consent. While someone’s words or actions may be insensitive or rude, you ultimately decide whether or not to take offense. This is an empowering mindset to adopt.

You Choose Your reaction.

When something happens that you perceive as offensive, you have a choice in how you react. You can choose to be offended and upset, or you can choose not to be offended. The former reaction often leads to feelings of anger, resentment, and helplessness. The latter allows you to remain calm and in control of your emotions.

  • Remind yourself that you cannot control other people’s actions; you can only control your reaction.
  • Take a few deep breaths to avoid reacting impulsively. Respond instead of reacting.
  • Try to view the situation objectively before deciding to take offense. The other person may not have intended to offend you.
  • Ask yourself if the issue is really worth getting upset about. Will it matter tomorrow? Next week? In a year? If not, let it go.

Do Not Give Others Power Over you.

When you choose to be offended, you are giving the other person power over you and your emotional state. You are allowing their words or actions to dictate how you feel. Make a habit of not taking the bait and not giving away your power so easily.

  • Do not let insensitive or thoughtless comments have control over your feelings and self-worth.
  • Respond with indifference rather than anger or accusations. Do not give the other person the satisfaction of knowing that their actions affected you.
  • Remember that their opinions say more about them than they do about you. Do not internalize other people’s insensitive behavior.

Choosing not to be offended is a sign of inner strength and confidence. You know your own truth, and you do not need validation from insensitive people. When you are easily offended, you are giving away your personal power and peace of mind. Take your power back by not taking the bait and staying in control of your reactions and emotions. Offense may be taken, but it is never given unless you choose to accept it.

How is offense Subjective and relative?

How is offense Subjective and relative
How is offense Subjective and relative?

Offense is highly subjective and relative. What offends one person may not faze another in the slightest. Our personal experiences, beliefs, and values all shape our sensitivities and determine what we find objectionable or inappropriate.

Cultural Norms vary.

What is considered offensive varies greatly across cultures, regions, and time periods. For example, burping after a meal is seen as a compliment to the chef in some cultures, while in other places it is viewed as rude and disgusting. Cultural contexts shape social norms and influence how people interpret and react to the same words, images, or behaviors.

Individual Sensitivities differ.

Each person has a unique set of sensitivities, tolerances, and hot buttons based on their own experiences, beliefs, traumas, identity, and more. For some, certain types of humor or language can be triggering or traumatizing, while for others, the same things barely register. We all have different lines in the sand that determine what we find objectionable.

Offense Is Often Taken, Not given.

In many cases, people choose to be offended by interpreting words or actions in a way that personally offends them. The speaker’s or actor’s actual intent may have nothing to do with giving offense. We cannot control how others interpret our words, so those seeking to be offended will likely find a reason to be, regardless of intent or meaning.

You Cannot Control How Others feel.

While we should aim to be respectful in our communications, we ultimately have no control over how others feel or whether or not they choose to be offended. As long as you have good, constructive intentions, others’ reactions say more about them than about you. However, if your words are repeatedly offending or upsetting others, it may be worth reflecting on how you can be more considerate, empathetic, and inclusive. But in general, you cannot control other people’s emotions.

Being offended is often less a reflection of the actual offense and more a reflection of an individual’s personal sensitivities, experiences, and choices. While we should aim for empathy, respect, and inclusiveness, we cannot control how others interpret our words or whether they choose to be offended. Their reaction says more about them than us.

The Difference Between Feeling Offended and Being Offended

Many people use the terms “feeling offended” and “being offended” interchangeably, but they are not the same. Feeling offended is a subjective emotional reaction to something that someone else says or does. Being offended is a claim that someone else has violated a moral or social norm.

Feeling vs. Being Offended

Feeling offended is an emotional reaction to something that you perceive as insulting or disrespectful. On the other hand, being offended is a choice and a mindset that you can control. Offense is often taken, not given.

  • Feeling offended happens involuntarily and stems from your personal experiences, values, and interpretations. It’s a natural human reaction to statements that contradict your beliefs or cross sensitive lines. However, you can choose how long you hold onto that feeling and how much you let it impact you.
  • Being offended is a more permanent position where you wrap your identity and ego around that feeling. You feel personally attacked and use it as evidence to pass judgment on others or make yourself a victim. You give away your power by allowing the words or actions of others to control your emotional state.

How to Move from Feeling Offended to Empowered

It’s not about becoming numb to insensitive remarks but rather learning how not to internalize them. Here are some tips to help shift your mindset:

  1. Don’t make assumptions. The intent behind the comment may have been misinterpreted. Ask clarifying questions before reacting defensively.
  2. Don’t take it personally. The other person’s words say more about them than yours. Their criticism does not define your self-worth.
  3. Focus on facts, not interpretations. Examine what was actually said versus what you inferred. Look for evidence to support your conclusions.
  4. Choose your response. You can’t control what others say, but you can control how you respond. Take a few deep breaths and respond in a constructive way.
  5. Broaden your perspective. Try to understand different viewpoints and why someone may hold those opinions. Look for opportunities to build empathy.
  6. Let it go. Make the conscious choice not to dwell on the offense. The longer you hold onto it, the more it fuels feelings of anger and victimhood. Forgive and move forward.

Choosing empowerment over offense means not allowing the words of others to hold power over you. React with wisdom and grace rather than emotion. Your self-confidence and inner peace will thank you.

Why We Should Avoid Actively Seeking Things to Offend Us

Why We Should Avoid Actively Seeking Things to Offend Us
Why We Should Avoid Actively Seeking Things to Offend Us

We can’t control what offends us, but we can control our reaction.

While we can’t control what in the world triggers feelings of offense in us, we can choose how we react. Actively seeking out things to offend you, whether intentionally or not, often does more harm than good.

Look inward, not outward.

Rather than directing your anger at whatever offended you, look inward. Ask yourself why you feel offended. Often, we get offended not because of the actual thing that triggered the reaction but because of our own insecurities, past experiences, trauma, or anger issues. Focus on addressing the root cause of these feelings instead of attacking others.

Choose not to be a victim.

You can’t control how others act; you can only control your reaction. When we choose to be offended, we are allowing external factors to victimize us. Don’t give others that power over you. Recognize that you have a choice in how you respond, and respond in a way that empowers you rather than playing the victim.

Offense is subjective.

What offends one person may not offend another. Remember that offense is often subjective and colored by our own experiences, beliefs, and biases. Don’t assume that just because something offended you, it was objectively offensive or intended to offend. Give others grace and the benefit of the doubt.

Stay focused on what really matters.

It’s easy to get distracted by petty things that offend us, but that only serves to divide us and stir up anger and conflict. Choose instead to focus your energy on the things that really matter—acts of injustice, threats to human rights, and the destruction of moral values. Save your offense for things that actually matter instead of trivial matters.

In summary, while we can’t always control what offends us, we can choose how we react. Look inward, don’t play the victim, remember that offense is subjective, and stay focused on what really matters. When we do so, we become less easily offended and more empowered.

Developing Emotional Resilience

Developing Emotional Resilience
Developing Emotional Resilience

Why We Need to Stop Caring So Much About What Others Think? Developing emotional resilience is the ability to cope with stress, adversity, and challenges in a positive and constructive way. Emotional resilience can help you bounce back from difficulties, learn from your experiences, and grow as a person. Some ways to develop emotional resilience are:

Stop Caring What Others think.

When you stop caring so much about what other people think of you, you’ll gain emotional resilience and independence. Their opinions are not facts and say more about them than you. You can’t control what others think or say, so don’t waste time and energy on it.

Focus on Your Own values.

Instead of worrying about what others might be thinking, focus on what you think. Connect with your own values and priorities to build self-confidence from within. Ask yourself what really matters to you and strive to live according to those principles. As long as you respect others in the process, you’ll develop an internal strength that isn’t swayed by outside opinions.

Don’t Take Things personally.

It’s easy to feel offended when you interpret other people’s words or actions as a reflection on you, but that’s often not the case. Their behavior typically says more about them—their experiences, perspectives, and biases. Try not to take things personally and maintain emotional distance. React rationally instead of defensively. See the bigger picture: Their offense probably has little to do with you.

Choose Your reaction.

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your reaction. Choose not to be offended. Decide not to engage or argue. Stay calm and detached. Your reaction is within your power, so respond in a way that maintains your own integrity and inner peace. Let things go that you can’t influence and save your energy for what really matters.

Overall, being less offended and developing emotional resilience come down to caring less about what unrelated people think, focusing on your own values, not taking things personally, and choosing your reactions. Stay true to yourself, keep the bigger picture in mind, and don’t give others power over your emotional state. With practice, you’ll establish mental toughness and stability.

The Dangers of Labeling Speech as “Offensive”

The Dangers of Labeling Speech as Offensive
The Dangers of Labeling Speech as Offensive

Labeling speech as “offensive” can be dangerous territory. It suggests that speakers have a right not to be offended, which is concerning for free speech. Offense is often taken, not given, and censoring speech that some may find objectionable can set a bad precedent.

Slippery Slope

Once we start restricting speech that offends some, it can quickly snowball into limiting the expression of unpopular or minority opinions. If controversial ideas or debates are shut down due to potential offense, it undermines the open exchange of ideas that fuels social progress. Censorship, no matter how well-intentioned, should not be taken lightly.


What qualifies as offensive is highly subjective and open to interpretation. Words and ideas that offend some may not offend others, or they may even be intended as constructive criticism. Offense depends heavily on individual experiences, beliefs, and sensitivities. In a pluralistic society, we will never reach universal agreement on what constitutes offensive speech.

Building Resilience

Being exposed to ideas we disagree with or find distasteful helps build resilience and character. While hate speech that directly incites harm is unacceptable, speech that is merely offensive in the eyes of some should be protected. Taking offense and demanding censorship threatens free expression and reflects an unwillingness to engage in debate.

Rather than labeling speech as offensive, a healthier response is to counter objectionable ideas with more speech. We can thoughtfully explain why we disagree, discuss the underlying issues, and promote inclusive values. Banning speech often just drives unhealthy views underground and amplifies perceptions of oppression. With open debate, time, and understanding, positive social change is possible.

Read more

An offense may feel unpleasant, but it is not dangerous. Censorship of unpopular ideas, no matter how objectionable they seem, poses the real threat to society. Protecting free speech, even when it offends, is the path to greater wisdom and progress.

How Taking Offense Can Disempower Us

How Taking Offense Can Disempower Us
How Taking Offense Can Disempower Us

When we allow ourselves to feel offended by the words or actions of others, we are essentially giving away our power and control. Taking offense is a choice, and we can choose not to be offended and instead maintain an empowered perspective.

Don’t Take the bait.

It’s easy to get hooked by insensitive or rude comments, but remember that you don’t have to bite the bait. The person making such remarks is likely trying to provoke you or make themselves feel better by putting you down. Your reaction is what gives their words power over you. Stay calm and detached, and their verbal barbs will have no effect.

Focus on Yourself, Not others.

We have no control over what others say or do; we only have control over our own reactions. Don’t give someone else’s opinion so much importance that it dictates your emotional state. Your self-worth isn’t defined by what others think of you. Know who you are, focus on surrounding yourself with people who share your values, and shrug off judgment or criticism from those who don’t matter.

Read more

Address the Root Cause of Your reaction.

Feeling offended is often a symptom of underlying self-esteem or confidence issues. Work on accepting yourself as you are, imperfections and all. Make a list of your best qualities and accomplishments to remind yourself of your inherent worth. The less you need external validation, the less offended you’ll feel when you don’t get it.

Respond With Empathy and wisdom.

If a comment was particularly hurtful, it may help to address it, but do so with empathy and care. Explain how their words made you feel without accusation, share your perspective without judging theirs, and try to build understanding. This approach is more likely to create a constructive outcome. Ultimately, the most empowered response is often compassion and forgiveness. This frees you from resentment and hurt, allowing peace of mind regardless of the other person’s intentions or apologies.

Choosing not to be offended is a way of asserting your own authority over your emotional state and sense of self. You cannot control others; you can only control your reactions. Focus on surrounding yourself with supportive people, work to build your confidence from within, and make an effort to respond to hurt with wisdom, empathy, and grace. This approach will strengthen and empower you.

Offense FAQs:

Answers to Common Questions

Why do some people seem to get offended more easily?

Some individuals may be more prone to taking offense for a few reasons:

  • They have strong views and beliefs that are important to their identity and values. Anything that challenges these is seen as a personal attack.
  • They lack emotional regulation and resilience. They have a harder time managing their reactions and bouncing back from perceived slights or criticism.
  • They feel insecure or threatened. Feeling offended can be a way to push back against comments or actions that make them feel uncomfortable or vulnerable in some way.
  • They interpret neutral or ambiguous comments in a negative way. They may perceive intention or judgment where there is none, reading between the lines.
  • They crave drama or attention. For some, taking offense frequently can be a means to create conflict, stir up sympathy, or cast themselves as victims.

How can people avoid being so easily offended?

Here are a few tips to help build tolerance for offense:

  1. Focus on intent. Try to determine if there was truly malicious intent before reacting. If not, give it the benefit of the doubt.
  2. Develop empathy. Try to understand different perspectives and viewpoints. Not everyone shares your beliefs and values.
  3. Choose your battles. Don’t make a big deal out of every perceived slight. Save your energy for issues that really matter.
  4. Stay confident in yourself. Do not let outside comments shake your own sense of worth and identity. What others say is a reflection of them, not you.
  5. Respond constructively. When you do feel the need to address an offensive comment, do so respectfully and with a willingness to listen and understand the other person’s point of view. Anger and accusations will likely only make the situation worse.

The ability to remain unoffended by challenging opinions and behaviors is a sign of strength, not weakness. With time and practice, you can build this resilience in yourself. Focus on controlling your own reactions rather than trying to control others. Stay confident in who you are, open to other perspectives, and selective about what issues are really worth addressing.


You have the power to choose how you react to words and situations that may offend you. Rather than giving others control over your emotions by choosing to be offended, remain confident in who you are. Focus on surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are. Their words and opinions are the only ones that truly matter.

Rise above the small-minded prejudices and judgments of others by not internalizing them. You know your own truth. Do not let anyone else’s ignorance or cruelty define you or dictate how you feel about yourself. Choose to be empowered rather than weakened. You have the strength within you to let superficial offenses roll off your back. Your self-worth isn’t defined by what others say or think about you.

You define your own self-worth by choosing not to be offended.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Email Subscriber Forum