Speaking your mind is easy. Speaking it tactfully? Not so much. Are you offended by the easily offended? Want to join the Victimhood Olympics? Once upon a time, we were able to differ and dissent naturally, openly, and even publicly. After all, don’t we all have different perspectives and points of view? Dialogue used to involve give and take without getting annoyed, angry, irked, and irritated with anyone who disagreed with us.

Some have come to believe that the best argument against a different position is to simply say: “I’m offended.” If you find yourself perennially rattled and ruffled, you may need to look within yourself for some unresolved issues. Perhaps you have past pain that has not been worked through yet. Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.

You can even aggravate and antagonize some folks with common sense. If you’re gonna push my buttons, it might be best to avoid the ones controlling missile launches. Doesn’t it seem like the world is getting so sensitive that soon you won’t be able to make fun of yourself without offending someone? You can tell a lot about a person’s character by what they laugh at.

Ever notice how some seem to get provoked and peeved on behalf of a group who don’t even seem upset themselves? In the absence of civil discourse and discussion, all that remains are shouting matches and name calling. Know this: Insults are the last resort for someone with a crumbling position, desperately trying to appear confident.

“Me? I’m very laid back. I only care about two things: every person on earth, and their opinion of me.” You know what they say: Honest criticism is hard to take – particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger. But the truth is: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words… can cause permanent psychological damage.

“Just because we have freedom of speech doesn’t mean I want to hear what you have to say.” Uh, oh. Do you have the right to take away his freedom of expression simply because his view provoked you? Remember, oftentimes it is not the comment, but how you interpreted the comment, that made you cranky and crabby. Many wish to control their version of the truth by silencing you or trying to regulate your response, as well. What if I told you that freedom of speech includes the freedom to criticize speech?

Some people play the victim so well, they should carry around their own body chalk. Y’all know those who are never responsible or accountable for their behavior and forever entitled to sympathy. I know. You have a victim mentality but it’s not your fault. Sometimes you are not a victim of circumstances but a product of your decisions.

Do not adapt or adjust your thinking or behavior simply to match his world view. By all means, do not dismiss her way of looking at things, and please be willing to listen. Of course, we all have sore spots that can get easily triggered. Remind yourself that you do not have to feel wounded now because of a pain you suffered in the past. You are truly not that fragile.

We all need resources, sweet friends, to handle criticism and condemnation. We operate in a world where we are most definitely not in control. And believe it or not, our insights may not actually reflect an objective truth. Oh, and any criticism you can make about Teflon will never stick. Be like a runner. Take your criticism in stride.

Sometimes you need to tell people what they don’t want to hear. But do not enforce your beliefs on others, please. If he tries to do that, maintain a healthy boundary. Of course, it’s easy to believe in freedom of speech for those who agree with you. You process nearly 100,000 words a day. How many do you take offense to?

Please do not take on beliefs or biases from the media and the world without challenging them. Anything that opposes your opinion need not be viewed as a threat. No matter how many of you experience the exact same thing, you will all filter it uniquely and ultimately give different meaning to it.

Always look for intent behind someone’s words. Did she really mean to hurt you? If she did, that says more about her than about you. What was the context of what he did? Is it possible that you misunderstood? Not everything in life is the way it seems.

If she tells you that she got hurt by you, tell her that you are sorry that she did, and that was not your intention. Ask him if it is all right to bring up a topic that may be controversial. “Is now a good time?”

Please do not allow yourself to be controlled by your own hypersensitivity. Do not look for things to be offended about. Better yet: See the provoker as a teacher, and the lapse of etiquette as a gift.

When in doubt, practice empathy, sweet friends.  As always, a sense of humor is your best friend. If you’re too busy to laugh – you’re too busy.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.