By CHARLENE PAUL
There is a chronic illness spreading through neighborhoods, cities, and countries. Millions suffer from it already, and millions more carry the germ by which it is spread. It causes fatigue, broken egg shells, irritability, depression, stomach disorders, anger, judgement, sleeplessness, thinning of the skin, hardening of the heart, disappointment, hypersensitivity, brain fog, mountainous mole hills, hurt feelings, bloodshot eyes, and extreme bouts of righteous indignation. It is thought that this malady has been around for eons of time. If not caught early, this illness leaves scars and wounds that are passed down from one generation to the next. There is no vaccine. Fortunately, however, there is a cure.
The not-so-scientific term for this illness is offendeditis. Are you afflicted? Could you be a carrier? Take a close look at a few of the causes to find out.
• Sitting in a restaurant with your significant other, your peaceful meal is interrupted by a noisy family with several small children.
• Your neighbor keeps forgetting to trim his tree that is touching your roof.
• Your sister hasn’t returned the sweater she borrowed last fall.
• Driving around the mall parking lot, you finally spy the perfect parking space. Just as you turn to pull in, a small sports car zooms past to claim it.
• You heed the freeway signs letting drivers know they must merge right. Others continue to pass you until just before the lane ends. A guy in a pick-up truck cuts you off.
• The couple sitting behind you in the movie theater must have learned to whisper in a sawmill.
• You just caught one of those good church-going people doing something they shouldn’t have been doing.
• You worked overtime for several weeks without as much as a sideways glance from your boss.
• Your husband forgot your anniversary/birthday.
• Your wife spent the money you have been saving for a new set of golf clubs.
• Your brother joked about your expanding waistline in front of the rest of the family – and they all laughed.
The list is endless since each person’s immune system is a little different. But the basic cause of offendeditis usually begins as a little irritation that, if left untreated, quickly grows until it is out of control.
The first step to curing offendeditis is to realize there is a problem. Until this realization is made, the carrier runs the risk of spreading the disease to every person with whom they come in contact. It works like this: Someone offends you. You become angry, jealous, or depressed. You harbor those feelings. You feel justified in saying whatever comes to your mind. And the disease spreads until no one is safe from its grasp.
If you recognize that you may be suffering from this ailment, there are five simple steps to the cure:
1) Walk a Mile in Their Shoes. In her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee wrote, “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
2) Reserve Judgment. This fits nicely into the first step. Those so-called good church-going people? They are just as flawed as you and me.
3) Assume the best. That guy who just cut you off on the highway? Maybe his wife was in labor and he was trying to get her to the hospital so they wouldn’t have to list the baby’s birthplace as a shoulder on I-15.
4) Allow Others to be Human. Your sister still has your sweater? Could it be that it simply slipped her mind? Do both of you a favor; give her a quick call.
5) Learn to Laugh at Yourself. Having a healthy sense of humor is like taking medicine with a spoonful of sugar. Your brother didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. He’s always been a tease. And he would come to your defense in a heartbeat if you were in trouble.
The single most effective way to combat and cure offendeditis is to understand that no one can actually offend you. You choose whether or not to contract this illness. You are in complete control of your health when it comes to offendeditis. Deepak Chopra said it this way, “If you take the insults of your fellow human beings personally, you will be offended for the rest of your life.”
If you find yourself suffering from offendeditis, why not work on a cure this summer. Transform those mountains back into mole hills. Get off the righteous indignation train. Let go of anger and judgment. Get a good night’s sleep. Smile like you mean it. Do your stomach, skin, brain, and eyes a favor. Don’t become a victim of chronic offendeditis. Forgive.
Charlene Paul and her husband Ken raised their family in Moapa Valley. She loves reading, writing, baking, crochet, and talking. She is the owner of Look on the WRITE Side, a freelance writing and proofreading company and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.