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A Personal Reflection on the Psychology of Taking Offense

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The purpose of this reflective essay is to describe a time where my identity and self-worth were challenged and put into question. In this essay, I will examine an instance involving a simple piano lesson and my brother. I will also include how defeated I felt, the anger I experienced towards a loved one and how that began a journey of learning how to never give up and fight through hardship.

What

I have a brother, his name is Patrick, and he and I are roughly 2 years apart in age. Patrick is an incredibly intelligent individual and is a gifted piano player, almost to a savant level. I had always participated in theatre and choral performances, so I felt proficient enough to try a hand at piano. I wanted to attempt a new skill and employed the one mind I thought might be able to teach me, my brother. Patrick agreed to this proposal, and we began our first lesson. Within 45 minutes, I had become so enraged and hurt that I stood up, yelled at Patrick and stormed off. Patrick had simply stated, “You are not very good at this.”, a relatively harmless phrase but within the context was quite offensive to me. Ultimately unaffected by my leaving, my brother then continued to play on, and that ended our ever playing the piano again together.

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So What

As I left the room, I was left with the feeling of defeat in a multitude of ways. As my brother’s words continued to play again in my head, I felt I was unable to gain my brothers respect and would be unable to attain any level near as good as his on the piano. I based all this frustration off a little quip aimed at a struggling younger brother. My brother was right; however, I was not good because I had no prior training, while he had already been playing for years; I was too irrational of an individual at the time to realize that unfortunately.

My brother’s affinity for brutal honesty has been a constant throughout our lives; but has allowed me to gain a new understanding of failure, and recognition of my strengths and faults. Patrick’s statement was offensive, but he was not wrong; through that interaction I learned that, sometimes honesty can offend but it might be for your ultimate benefit, as it was for me.

What Next

I was able to take a lot from this situation and strengthen myself emotionally. I learned that lashing out towards a situation rarely fixes or adds anything positive to the equation. I worked on accepting what others said and controlling my reaction, especially in times of offense. It was a crucial point of learning for me as I had to learn to really take in and decipher people’s words, because even if something comes off offensively, it might not have been intentional.

I am now able to step back from situations, gather myself and thoughts and respond if need be, sometimes even silence is a strong answer. I can ensure that my response is appropriate for the situation and my self-doubts will not be projected onto others.

Conclusion

When experiencing being offended, it is necessary to consider many sides to the statement, action, and even the person who is offending you. Learning how to take a step back, gather my thoughts while considering any malice or ill intent, and then responding allowed me to grow as an individual. As a nurse, reflective practice will allow me to view interactions with patients holistically and respond in the most appropriate manner.

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