Anything that disappears from your psychological inventory is apt to turn up in the guise of a hostile neighbor, who will inevitably arouse your anger and make you aggressive. It is surely better to know that your worst enemy is right there in your own heart.
~CG Jung, Vol 10, para 456
Very often the ego experiences a vague feeling of moral defeat and then behaves all the more defensively, defiantly, and self-righteously, thus setting up a vicious circle which only increases its feeling of inferiority.
~CG Jung Vol 9ii, para 34
We all take offense, from feeling miffed at a thoughtless but cutting comment to being suffused with righteous rage. Others may fail to meet our expectations, agree with deep values, or hold us in positive regard. These experiences can spark effective and defensive reactions, since what offends us often lies in our shadow and is incompatible with how we wish to be perceived. Taking offense also occurs at a cultural level. “Offenders” can be publicly excoriated, exiled from a group or organization, or denied the right to deliver a speech. The experience of offense can be a call to differentiate between a feeling and actual harm—and to meet the implicit challenge of holding the tension between the comfort of being “right” and an opportunity to engage in growth.
Here’s the dream we discuss:
“My neighbor, a 20-something guy who works in the “alternative healing” field, and who I don’t usually talk to much, was being friendly, chatting with me about his band and their website. Then he was telling me about a lemon tincture he was taking. He would mix it with blood and drink it. He said I should go to his house and get some and try it, and that if I didn’t have any blood, I should order some. He said this as if I could call a delivery service and the blood would show up at my door in no time. I inwardly balked at the idea of drinking blood. I told him I would mix it with water instead, and he said no, that blood was the only way to do it. He said, “Trust me. It’s way better with blood.” I didn’t say so, but I was shocked that he was drinking blood. To me, it was just too crazy and weird and gross, even if it did have some kind of miraculous healing properties. I was willing to try the tincture, but not in blood, though I didn’t tell him this.”
Photo by Heather M. Edwards on Unsplash