stop taking things personally

Do things other people say and do easily disrupt your happiness?

Can your entire mood shift because of one negative comment by a coworker or family member?

If this is true, it sounds like you are taking things personally.

Imagine these interactions on your morning commute to work….

stop taking things personallyAn erratic driver cuts you off in traffic….the barista at your regular coffee spot is aloof while taking your order…..and then there was the rude person who didn’t acknowledge you and return your friendly hello when you got on the elevator.

When you finally reach your desk has your friendly disposition turned sour?

That’s because you allowed other people to dictate how you feel……..

When you take everything people say and do personally, you are setting yourself up for a life filled with suffering.

And if you want to live a life free of the constant judgment from others, you need to learn the following strategies:

Change Your Perception

Changing your perception takes the focus off of you — by removing the ego — and provides an opportunity to consider how the other person in the equation is feeling and what they may be thinking.

It’s easy to get defensive and irritable when you feel like a negative comment or action is directly related to you.

But instead, take a moment to consider all the facts……..

>>>Maybe the erratic driver was late for a job interview because her kid barfed right as she was leaving the house…

>>>The barista had nothing to smile about because his dog died that morning….

>>>And the person in the elevator? Maybe they just don’t think it’s important to say hi back when someone acknowledges them.

Defensiveness rises from assumptions about the unknown that are believed to be true. Before jumping to conclusions, ask questions to clarify where others’ actions, inactions, or inquiries are coming from. If you really put an effort into this, you will find that it has nothing to do with you.

Albert Ellis — a 20th Century Psychologist — argues that a person is not affected emotionally by what happens around them, but by their interpretation of what happened.

In turn, your interpretations are formed by your beliefs.

Remove yourself from the center of focus, temporarily disengage from your emotions, and you’ll be able to consider other possibilities.

Take Back Your Power 

It’s easy to feel slighted when someone says or does something offensive.

But even when a negative comment or action seems to be directly related to you….it never is.

It’s always a reflection of the other person.

If your spouse cheats….it hurts, there is no denying that. And it’s easy to assume the cheating was because of something you did or didn’t do.

The self-doubt will kick in……

………”Am I not good enough?”  “Did I work too much?”

But, the truth is:

It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

>>>>They may be unhappy, and nothing is ever going to satisfy them.

>>>>Or perhaps honesty isn’t meaningful to them like it is to you.

And when you take things personally you give others more power over you than they deserve or should ever be allowed to have.

In effect, you are allowing someone to question what you feel and believe.

You are trusting someone else to tell you who you are, instead of relying on what you know to be true about yourself; what really defines you as a person without any outside influence.

In essence, taking things personally keeps you tied to someone else and, in the extreme, can even make you feel like a victim

Think back to your morning commute…..nothing any of those people said or did was a reflection of you. They were all too busy worrying about their own lives.

The person in the elevator?

It’s easy to assume there was something about you they didn’t like….your hair? the color of your outfit?

It’s absurd to think a total stranger can have a strong reaction based on something so superficial

More likely, they just don’t carry the same set of values that you do — saying hello back isn’t important to them.

And there’s a good chance they treat everyone that way…..not just you.

So allowing them to affect your mood is only extracting joy from your life.

Only you are responsible for how you feel.

Increase Your Confidence

Let’s just say the barista’s dog didn’t die and the reason he didn’t smile is because his coworker told him the last time you were in — you didn’t leave a tip. But you know you did leave a tip, and he just didn’t notice.

It doesn’t change the fact that it still has nothing to do with you.

And the only reason you care about how the barista is treating you is that his approval is important to you.

But why?

A good question to ask yourself is:

Do I really care what this person thinks of me, and will it matter in a year from now?

If the answer is yes, then speak to the person in question regarding the offense.

And if the answer is no…..then you can use that to move beyond the emotion of the moment.

Chances are, if you are confident with who you are, the opinions of others won’t affect you.

Because confidence increases the buffer between a negative comment or action and how you feel about yourself.

You’re in your own head, so you already know all your flaws. But it’s much easier to shrug off a negative comment when you’re confident because you know it isn’t true.

Besides:

You get to choose how you want to respond to external stimuli.

Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements notes:

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

And to be honest….other people aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are.

Most people — like you — are thinking about themselves.

Improve Your Self-Awareness

Engaging in personal development serves to improve your self-awareness.

And being more self-aware is useful when it comes time to gauge whether or not an event requires you to take action or simply let it go.

Being cut off in traffic and scowled at while ordering a coffee unquestionably should not destroy your inner peace.

But, a boss who constantly criticizes you and makes it difficult for you to do your job?

……that might require sticking up for yourself and setting some boundaries — recalling the question…….will this affect me a year from now.

And remember:

Our outer world will always be a reflection of our inner world. Our level of success is always going to parallel our level of personal development

Your boss might be an angry, unhappy person. Try to keep that in mind when you’re tempted to lash out.

When you have increased self-awareness, you know yourself well and can trust your intuition.

Free others of the responsibility to treat you exactly how you think they should, and you’ll free yourself to live authentically.

Because how you feel on the inside is more important than worrying about how you’ll be judged or perceived.

When something negative is suddenly focused on you — right or wrong — it’s difficult not to fixate on it.

But you will, without a doubt, live a more fulfilled and joyful life when you learn to not take things personally.

Do you have any tips or stories about how to stop taking things personally?

Please share them in the comments.

Your insight could be helpful to another reader.

Yours in adventure,

Matt