I was reminded this week how easy it is for our words spoken to be interpreted by the listener in a manner which results in them taking offence.
My adult child having spent a wonderful day with me, in which my intention was to show her my love and continue our journey to overcome some difficulties in the past, took offence at something I said towards the end of the day in relation to my hopes for her future.
In realising that a word in my sentence changed very much its sentiment, and being told I had caused offence, I apologized.
I then had a long drive home in which my feelings of frustration and hurt threatened not just to spoil the day, but the very future I am trying with my adult child to improve.
It has taken several periods of reflection and inner scrutiny to find my way through all of this and my overwhelming desire is to maintain and strengthen the good work we have begun and that is what I am resolved to do.
I reflected more on my own capacity to take offence and what I can do to work harder to resist the temptation myself to communicate that I have been offended by the words of others, particularly when the context of the relationship is far bigger than a mis-spoken word.
It seems to me that to take offence is to react in the moment without looking wider at the broader importance of the circumstances of the whole relationship and also at whether the words were designed to cause offence or were merely an expression of a view or aspiration which I am less ready to accept than the person expressing them.
A few years ago, after I told my brother that I was gay,he told me that our older brother had suspected as much in a conversation they had about me, but not with me.
I have felt a sense of hurt right from the moment my brother told me about this conversation and it would be fair to say that I took offence – I was mortified by it.
Throughout my journey to nurture and develop my love for self, I have come to understand that to take offence is to close down our opportunities to listen, it is to close down our opportunities for dialogue, it is to close down our opportunities to be open with self.
My next blog will be: Skin