Some words that ruffled more than a few feathers among church members came from the October 2006 general conference talk entitled, “And Nothing Shall Offended” by Elder David Bednar (see: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2006/10/and-nothing-shall-offend-them?lang=eng). In short, Elder Bednar shares the idea that we ultimately choose to be offended by another and that hence, we can choose not to be offended. Even more so, he recommends that we should choose to not be offended by others. Why has this talk bothered some members? Because when someone has truly been on the receiving end of some real verbal/emotional abuse from others, they probably won’t want to hear that it was their fault for having a problem with it. It can sound or come across like victim blaming. True. Still, it is an interesting idea and concept to consider.
From the talk he states: “Let me make sure I understand what has happened to you. Because someone at church offended you, you have not been blessed by the ordinance of the sacrament. You have withdrawn yourself from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because someone at church offended you, you have cut yourself off from priesthood ordinances and the holy temple. You have discontinued your opportunity to serve others and to learn and grow. And you are leaving barriers that will impede the spiritual progress of your children, your children’s children, and the generations that will follow.” Many times people would think for a moment and then respond: “I have never thought about it that way.”
…When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.”
So…what do you think? Do you think you can “choose to not be offended”? As a clinical psychologist I wouldn’t say such a statement in such a black and white, all or nothing fashion. I think reacting with some immediate offense when we are hit with harsh words or treatment is not simply choosing to be offended. It is understandable and natural. However, how offended we allow ourselves to be after that point is somewhat under our control. How we interpret the offense and what we tell ourselves about the offense will greatly determine how offended we become, and for how long. So, in a general sense I agree with what Elder Bednar is saying. However, I would just explain and describe it a bit differently, as noted. I wouldn’t want anyone who has been on the receiving end of verbal abuse to feel they were the problem for having a problem with how they were treated. Nevertheless, I have two suggestions to help you become “less offended” by the harsh or inconsiderate words and actions of others:
1) Learn Cognitive Therapy. Cognitive therapy is a type of therapy where you improve how you feel by changing how you are thinking about/interpreting a situation. The better you can interpret a negative situation in a more reasonable, rational, evidence-based, less personal fashion, the less upset you will be from it. For instance, remember that an offensive person treating you badly is mostly revealing their own poor choices and coping methods, more so revealing things about you. It isn’t personal. If they treated you abusively, they would likely treat others abusively as well in a similar circumstance.
Some good cognitive therapy resources I recommend to help you think better about these kinds of challenging situations are the following:
Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky
The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne
1) Get Spiritual Help:
There are numerous general conference talks, church related books, and scriptures available to help you to forgive and not hold grudges. I suggest that you read, watch, or listen to some applicable spiritually inspired words in addition to the talk focused on in this article. Then, pray and ask for help to forgive and let go of your hurt and bad feelings towards others. When you ask for The Lord’s help and feel the Spirit, you are well on your way to dropping hurts and offenses. The goal: get the Spirit as soon and as strongly as possible. There is a reason the Holy Ghost is also known as “The Comforter”. Having the Holy Ghost will definitely comfort you away from your emotional pains and hurts from others.
If you see “choosing to not be offended” as both a choice and as a process, you can more effectively work through and let go of hurt or offended feelings. Also, think of such hurt feelings as on a continuum, rather than as an “all or nothing” entity. Do the initial, upfront work to release the hurt from offenses, as suggested in this article. Some of the hurt feelings will lessen immediately, the rest will often take some time. Remember, feelings are not directly in our control. They are indirectly controlled through how we think and act. So, think and act in the recommended ways to drop offenses immediately and over time. Learning to “choose to not be offended” as described here will only help, benefit, and bless your current and future relationship, making them as healthy and happy as possible. And remember that “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
P.S. If you can questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).