Do you have a habit of taking things personally?
Learning to depersonalize what happens to you will reshape your world and make you much happier.
Personal importance, or taking things personally,
is the maximum expression of selfishness because
we make the assumption that everything is about ‘me’.
— Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
In today’s world, I see two “mental plagues” taking a massive emotional toll on multitudes of people. The first plague is ‘taking everything personally’, the second, loneliness.’
Taking things personally can result in conflict
‘Taking things personally’ can result in conflict, pushing others away and isolating ourselves. ‘Loneliness’ can result in stress, depression and even death. Ironically, taking things personally can lead to loneliness.
Both plagues have a cure. I call this cure ‘mental medication’ coupled with belief, curiosity and the willingness to upgrade your self-awareness.
The foundation of our mental growth begins with accepting that we have the ‘choice’ to rise above being a victim of our own thinking.
This shift of perspective is not easy. However, the payoff for the dis-ease is greater than you can imagine.
Related article – 17 Daily Choices You Can Make To Choose Happiness In Life
The cure begins with setting aside the need to be ‘right’.
In our early years, we get offended by what we believe people are thinking about us.
In our middle years, we hopefully learn not to care.
In our later years, we discover that
people weren’t really thinking about us anyway. — Anonymous
‘Taking things personally,’ while it may seem normal and natural, is anything but. When the result of choosing to take things personally creates stress and results in conflict, you are experiencing the world through the lens of FEAR. You won’t realize this at the time, but you will later.
How to stop taking things personally?
Let me lay the groundwork by presenting you with what I will be bold enough to label ‘Tough Life Facts.’
‘Tough life facts’ are neither meant to challenge your intelligence nor trigger your defensiveness. I present them simply to provide the context or a frame to support a shift in your thinking. If they make you uncomfortable, that’s perfectly natural. Your willingness to embrace them is paramount for you to grow emotionally, let go of fear and increase your moment-to-moment joy.
TOUGH LIFE FACT #1:
There are more than seven and a half billion people on this planet and from their point of view, their perspective, they are ‘right’ in what they believe. If you don’t believe it, ask them.
In today’s chaotic environment, you don’t have to go far before someone takes issue with what you say, becomes defensive, aggressive or determined to change your beliefs.
Perhaps this seems a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, you want to consider what this means in terms of communication. Also, ponder the effect you have on others.
The most successful individuals I have met, interviewed or coached realize the enormous impact their communication has on others as well as their own mental health. They have learned and continue to learn the mental tools to provide a kind of ‘shield’ that keeps them calm, centered and protects them from taking things personally.
Watch out Frederik Imbo explaining how not to take things personally.
TOUGH LIFE FACT #2:
You are not affected emotionally by what takes place around you but by your interpretation of what happens, based on what you believe to be true.
Your beliefs are just beliefs. They are programmed/imprinted, suggested, taught or witnessed before the age of six. Your version of reality is simply based on your previous experiences and conditioning.
You can shift the way you see the world by questioning your beliefs. Consider:
“What makes me feel disrespected?”
“If someone doesn’t return my phone call, email or greeting, are they being disrespectful?”
“Do I honestly feel worthy of someone’s respect?”
“If people think I’m not worthy of respect, then do they think I’m worthless?”
Reject the answers that are not based on reality. You can learn to see the world as it is, not how you want it to be.
Related article – 10 Powerful Confucius Quotes That Will Change Your Perspective On Life
TOUGH LIFE FACT #3:
Emotions do not have to rule your actions. Just because you experience negative emotions, such as anger, defensiveness, fear of rejection, doesn’t trap you into acting on them.
I explore this in-depth in my book, IMAGINE THAT! Igniting Your Brain for Creativity and Peak Performance. Here are the highlights.
Most people never think about, examine, or learn from their feelings. Nor do they realize that what and how they think creates the very feelings they don’t want to examine. And, because they have never examined the nature of their feelings, they mistakenly and often destructively let those feelings determine their behavior.
We need to get rid of the unrealistic and outdated notion that feelings determine what we do.
They do not. When we are freed from that myth, we discover that unpleasant feelings
are not simply troublesome, they are informative.
— David K. Reynolds, A Handbook for Constructive living
Feelings not only assist you in knowing yourself, but they also give you the opportunity to be authentic and connect deeply with others. Negative feelings are often the signpost for you to learn about and resolve old issues.