How To Not Take Things Personally
You’re looking at your Instagram and you notice a lot of party-photos have been posted, not only by the host (who is your friend) but also by several of your other friends. Everyone seems to be having a great time. You feel hurt and start to wonder why you weren’t invited. You like parties, you’re friends with practically everyone involved—or so it would seem by your feed. What is it about you that the hosts of the party didn’t think would mesh well with the party?
Instead of brushing it off, you fixate on it and try not to cry thinking of all the things you’ve done for the hosts over the years.
You’re taking not being invited to a party way too personally. Everybody has their own reasons for who they invite or don’t invite to a party. Perhaps you were at the last one and this one they wanted to have a different set of friends, or maybe it was all people with kids and you’re single.
You’ll never get a satisfactory answer because it’s ultimately not about you.
People do and say things all the time that have absolutely nothing to do with us and yet we still take them personally. It’s easy for others to tell us to stop worrying so much about what other people may or may not think of us, and just continue on with our lives, but sometimes the feelings and insecurities that we’re experiencing have deep roots and can’t simply be brushed off.
In the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom book author Don Miguel Ruiz says, “There’s a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” This is true, but sometimes it seems impossible not to feel that what has been said or done is directed at you.
Here’s some help on how to stop taking things so personally.
Change Your Perspective
The chances that they actually are talking about you or even considering your reaction are very slim. Dr. Sal Raichbach, says, “Ask yourself if the actions of the other individual are warranted. Then ask yourself what your responsibility is in the situation Often, you will realize that you’re not being personally attacked, and instead, you simply feel that way.”
Think about why you were hurt emotionally by something that someone else did. Marriage and Family therapist, Heidi McBain suggests to try and separate out your issues from other people’s. “Did they say something about some part of your life that you’re struggling with that struck a chord with you? Then this might be something you need to explore more deeply in your own life.”
Choose how much the words/actions affect you: You can decide if you’re going to let something that someone else said or did affect your life. Dr. Alisha “Ali” Griffith says, “Words only hurt when we perceive them to be hurtful.” If someone is deliberately saying something negative to you, Dr. Griffith suggests that you apply your own meaning to words that others may use against you.
Fill In The Blanks
What don’t you know about the situation? You may think that your boss just doesn’t like you and that’s why someone who started after you got a promotion, but maybe they have a higher degree or a skill set that’s more suited to the job.
Is it the Spotlight Effect that’s making you feel this way? The Spotlight Effect is when we believe that we’re being noticed more than we really are—as if there’s a spotlight on us and everyone around us is fully aware of our flaws, insecurities, and failures. While we may be the center of our own worlds, most of the time other people are more concerned about their own lives, not ours.
Cool Down Before Reacting
If we give ourselves some time to actually think things through, we can avoid making a mistake or a bad decision. If you can, try to remove yourself from the situation—take a walk, grab a coffee, or spend some quality time with your pets. This way you can hang on to your power without giving it away.
Work on your confidence: The more confidence you have and the greater your self-esteem the more easily you’ll be able to shrug off the comments and actions of other people. “If you are someone who always takes things personally, it can be helpful to work on boosting your confidence, letting go of what others may think when their opinions are either hurtful or not applicable, and accepting yourself as you are,” Dr. Raichbach says. With a greater sense of worth, you can put yourself above any perceived wrongs and keep on moving forward.
Let It Go
Communications expert Laurie Richards says, “It probably has more to do with who they are than with who you are. People with prejudices and biases are going to have those biases.” Not everyone is going to be on your team, but that doesn’t mean they actively dislike you. Let them deal with their own issues, they’re not your responsibility.
Do something for others: One way to get out of your head is to do something for someone else. By volunteering or giving your time to a charity, you are too busy to overthink about a perceived slight or even an intentional diss.
“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you,” says Don Miguel Ruiz.
Changing your thinking doesn’t happen overnight, but with time and a little practice, you’ll be able to improve your life and your emotional state by not taking things so personally.
When did you take something personally, and how did it affect you?