How To React With Love — Not Hate — When Someone Offends You

Photo: Alexandra Ișvănescu on Unsplash
Intention Vs. Execution: How To Deal When Someone Judges You (Or Offends You) By Spreading Love — Not Hate
Contributor
Love, Self

We live in a society that is rapidly changing and garnering more and more acceptance for the people that live in it. For a lot of people, a goal is to make everyone feel comfortable in who they are and accepted by the people around them. I think it is a truly beautiful way for the world to progress.

Here is the problem: We aren’t truly accepting everyone.  When someone offends us or judges us, we have to remember that not everyone is exposed to the same cultures and groups as we are.

Some people think that they are being open and welcoming, and the things they say sometimes feel so far out of left field offensive that it just knocks you off of your feet. But there are things we don’t always understand — in that moment we're not realizing that perhaps this person wasn't exposed to the same people, and the same rhetoric that we are.

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Was it their intention to hurt us, or belittle us? Or was it their intention to make you laugh, and they didn’t realize what they said would be hurtful?

Sometimes it's hard to understand another person's point of view, and our own perceptions get in the way of interpereting what they are trying to get across.

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You work at a restaurant in a major city. A new server had started a few weeks before and you thought they were sweet. It's the server's first time living in a major city so perhaps they are a little green, but you remember when you first moved there. You feel like you are doing them a service by showing them the ropes, but then all of the sudden your new friend says something so off color and offensive about a friend of yours that is gay.

What do you do? Everyone heard it. Most of your friends are appalled and writing off this new person as someone who is hateful, and closed minded.

Take a step back, and think about what happened. Was this person saying something out of disgust, or ignorance? Were their words hateful or was their rhetoric outdated. Did they ask a rude question out of anger or curiosity? Were they trying to build their own knowledge or cut down someone else’s sense of self-worth?

Let’s just say this new friend didn’t mean any harm. Perhaps they felt left out. Maybe this was their first time meeting someone so openly and lovingly accepting of themselves and they didn’t know how to be included. Maybe they asked a rude question (that they didn’t know was rude) to include themselves, and show that they were trying to learn. Or maybe they were trying to fit in by making a joke they didn’t know was offensive.

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What do you do?

If everyone starts persecuting them, they are going to feel ashamed. They will naturally take a step back from that moment wondering what went wrong. It is more then likely that instead of learning, that will spark a hatred in their hearts. Perhaps one that wasn’t there before. They will think, “I was trying to be nice and funny and they made me feel like a fool”.

What you should do is be understanding. Think, they didn’t mean to insult my friend, they just didn’t know any better.

Pull that person aside. Tell them,

Hey listen, I know you were just trying to be funny or you were just curious but stuff like that can really hurt and alienate people. I know you didn’t mean to do that but so you know for next time.

Accept people for their mistakes, especially the ones made earnestly. By persecuting them you are pushing them further away from you instead of drawing them closer.

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You are adding hate where there wasn’t hate to begin with. You become the divide.

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A lot of the time, people do mean to harm you. They want to hurt you. This is where we learn to stand up and defend ourselves and the people we love. But don’t let the anger towards those people translate into anger toward the people who are trying.

Give them time. Show them love

Not everyone is raised with the same values and the same cultures. Part of acceptance is accepting the lack of knowledge other people have of your journey and your struggle. For people who say cruel things, teach them. No one learns anything when anger is the tool chosen to educate. We learn through kindness. We learn through understanding. We learn through love.

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Kaitlin Kaiser is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.