NOT Taking Things Personally

Let’s start off with a simple question:
Why do we always take things so personally?
There are admittedly quite a few viable and valid answers to consider.  But, the one I have found to be most common is the tendency we all have of putting ourselves at the center, and seeing everything (every event, conversation, circumstance, etc) from the viewpoint of how it relates to us on a personal level.  And this can have all kinds of adverse effects, from feeling hurt when other people are rude, to feeling sorry for ourselves when things don’t go exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we aren’t perfect.
Of course, we are not really at the center of everything.  That is not how the universe works.  It just sometimes seems that way to us.  Let’s consider a few everyday examples…
Someone storms into the room in a really bad mood, huffing and puffing, and addresses us in a rude way.  Immediately we think to ourselves, “What’s going on here?  I don’t deserve to be treated like this!  They should know better!”  And we are left agitated, offended and angry.  But the truth is the other person’s behavior has very little to do with us.  They got mad at something outside the room, and now they are reactively venting their frustrations in front of us.  We just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This reality does not justify their behavior, but it needs to be consciously acknowledged so we don’t waste too much of our mental energy positioning ourselves at the center of the situation and taking everything personally.
Now, let’s assume for a moment that a person’s actions actually do seem to relate to us directly; we inadvertently did something that annoyed them, and now they are reacting very rudely to us.  A situation like this might seem personal, but is it really?  Is the magnitude of this person’s rude reaction all about us and the one thing we did to trigger them?  No, probably not.  It’s mostly just a statement about this person’s reactions, snap-judgments, long-term anger issues, and expectations of the universe.  Again, we are just a smaller piece of a much larger story.
And likewise, when someone else rejects us, ignores us, doesn’t call us when they said they would, doesn’t show they care, or flat out disrespects us… these reactions have much less to do with us than they have to do with the other person’s history of personal issues. We can learn to silently respect them and their pain without taking their words to heart.
But, again, because we see everything through a lens of how it personally relates to us and ONLY us; a lens that does a poor job of seeing the bigger picture we tend to react to everyone else’s actions and words as if they are a personal judgment or attack.  So, other people’s anger makes us angry.  Other people’s lack of respect makes us feel unworthy.  Other people’s unhappiness makes us unhappy.  And so it goes.
If you are nodding your head to any of this, it is time to start gracefully deflecting the senseless negativity around you.  When you sense negativity coming at you, give it a small push back with a thought like, “That remark (or gesture, or whatever) is not really about me, it’s about you (or the world at large).”  Remember that all people have emotional issues they are dealing with (just like you), and it makes them rude and downright thoughtless sometimes.  They are doing the best they can, or they are not even aware of their issues.  In any case, you can learn not to interpret their behaviors as personal attacks, and instead see them as non-personal encounters (like a dog barking in the distance, or a bumblebee buzzing by) that you can either respond to gracefully, or not respond to at all.
But, of course, this doesn’t come naturally—NOT taking things personally is an ongoing daily practice…

Leah is people powered! She is a woman on a mission to Encourage, Support and Inspire you as she writes. Her passion lies in topics relating to Mental Health, Women Empowerment, Self Care and Self Love.
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9 thoughts on “NOT Taking Things Personally

  1. This is just what I need to remind myself not to take things too personally. I’m well aware that people sometimes have problems that affect their emotions but still when they become rude / unhappy, that affects me so much. I often take words to heart, which is always making me down, and that’s why I have to push back all the negativity. Thank you for sharing this! 💖
    Tyas |

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you have been able to relate and that I’ve been able to help. It’s definitely a work in progress for me too but I hope this helps you on your journey to push all the negativity away.

  2. I always take things personally unfortunately that’s just my life but I am trying so hard not to do it as much these days this is such a wonderful post great information xo

  3. Love this!💕 I always say the same thing on my podcast. “Whatever negativity someone is throwing at you, it has nothing to do qith you and entirely with them!” If you get a chance, check it out!

  4. This is such an important topic! I’ve learned to stop taking things personally, why should someone else’s bad mood or thoughts affect me. I love how you explained the bigger pictures , it really does open our eyes to what’s going on around us! Thanks for sharing 😊

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