Mental Health matters | Causing accidental offence

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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A few words on upsetting people when you don’t mean to, and a few thoughts on what to do. All in our latest mental health chat.

Hello and a very warm welcome to the bit of the Film Stories site where we chat about mental health, wellbeing, and the things that may be affecting you, or people around you. This is a weekly column, that we’ve been running for several years now. No miracle cures are offered: it’s more a chance just to stop, talk about things, and hopefully over the course of the series come up with something of use.

This time, a few words on offending people when you don’t mean to.

There are moments in life where, if we’re being honest, we do something knowing it might wind someone up. Just ask my daughter if you don’t believe me: I’m a dab hand at irritating her. It’s very rare though that one of us will go out of our way to deliberate upset or offend someone.

The problem though is what leaves our brain and our mouth goes through filters of interpretation. It always sounds like the kind of statement that’s trying to shift blame from one person to another, but it doesn’t make it untrue that it happens.

I’ve certainly done this. I’ve offended people that I absolutely haven’t meant to, by words that I felt meant one thing and someone else took them in a different way. It’s hard to work out just who’s right and who’s wrong in those situations, but I’ve very definitely lost friends over my many years because of this. Some situations have been resolved, some haven’t.  

It’s really hard to know what to do, too. This isn’t an article that has a killer piece of advice to resolve moments like this, and if anything, it’s more an acknowledgement of how messy and muddled being a human being can be.

I think, once you’ve made every realistic attempt you can to sort things out (something, again, I think most people do), you sometimes have to get to a point where you walk away. The imperfections of life are such that not everything can be resolved, no matter how much anxiety or unhappiness you feel about things.

It’s a tough one, this, hence talking about it. Most of us will eventually take on the chin the crap we deserve. The stuff that we deep down feel we don’t deserve it much harder to accept. But for the preservation of mental health, sometimes, you just have to walk away, and you just can’t win.

The very best to you all. Thank you for reading. This column will return, as always, next week.

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