Can't Stop Taking Things Personally? Here's What YOU NEED TO KNOW

March 24, 2016

Do you think you have the right to take things personally or to never be offended?

I'm sorry to break your bubble. But you DON'T!

Are you one of those people who constantly worries about what people think of you, easily draw conclusions without proper judgement or get worked up over circumstances not going as planned?

You’re not alone.

Millions suffer from this ‘Taking Things Personally’ disease.

I cannot deny I was one of those.

However, I have been able to grow out of that vicious circle with the help of my all time mentor, my husband and of course daily practice.

Taking things personally has been one of my biggest crutches in life. I constantly felt insecure and leaned so much onto others for emotional security.  Peoples’ opinions of me meant a lot to me.

Happy when praised but absolutely gutted when criticized, mocked and disrespected.

I led myself into believing that everything people said about me was true and defined who I was as a person. I quickly lost all self-confidence.

Here's what Don Miguel Ruiz has to say about 'taking things personally'.

The Four Agreements
Nothing in this world is about us.
Whether you agree or not we are primarily living for ourselves.

We came to this world alone and we'll leave it alone.
Nobody will accompany us to the other side of the world no matter how scared, lonely, sick or sad we may feel on our death bed.

You are the main character of your story.

You have to accept the fact that you are the SECOND character in everybody else’s story.

Hence, why are you bent on taking things personally?

You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by doing so.

Have you noticed whenever you feel offended by someone, you automatically question their actions using such statements,

  • Why did they offend me?
  • Why are they saying nasty things about me?
  • Why are they sabotaging me?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions instead?

  • Why am I feeling offended?
  • Does what they say about me define who I am?

It’s really sad to see people losing sleep, peace of mind, becoming depressive and obsessed about what others think of them.

Surely you would know celebrities are hugely targeted and criticized over everything they do or say. They are under scrutiny 24/7. Even those who never met them throw all kinds of mean comments at them.

Just imagine if these celebrities were to take every single comment, critic or backlash personally...what would be left of them?

Similarly, you have to understand that most peoples’ words and actions aren’t aimed at you.
They are simply projecting their own suffering onto you or probably have nothing better to do.

You will be hated, rated and criticized all your life. Sometimes it might be a good idea to pay attention to what others have to say about you. It can help you improve as an individual, leader, member of the society, spouse, parent or employee.

However, if you are being targeted by vile, sarcastic, berating comments, learn to dust yourself off and quietly walk away as you know better than to care about those unloading their burden on you.

Easier said than done right?

Below are 5 ways to help you avoid taking things personally.

 Get off Autopilot

You must be wondering what has 'autopilot' got to do with taking things personally.

Do you know our minds often runs on ‘autopilot’?
Most of us have such routine lives that we simply get on with our days like robots.

A mind on autopilot is nothing less of an idle mind. You must have heard the common clichés, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’.

When left on ‘autopilot’ the mind is filled with noise.
There is constant chatter. There is that little voice that keeps nagging us.

Well, that’s where turning 'autopilot off' comes into play. Wake up from that ‘autopilot’ state and consciously choose to redirect your attention where necessary.

This practice can greatly help you be in the present moment, but it certainly requires some training and willingness.

Let’s imagine you have a colleague at work who regularly throws sarcastic comments at you. This person’s behaviour affects you emotionally and makes you feel upset.

There are two ways to react to this situation.

You can either ask them to stop being sarcastic which doesn’t guarantee a change in their demeanour towards you or simply practice being aware of your thoughts.

Whenever your colleague acts sarcastically pay close attention to how you feel. It's ok if deep down you feel offended but do not react.

Instead, take charge of your emotions, smile at your colleague and walk away from the situation.
Do this a few times and believe me, this will curb any unwanted behaviour.

 Approve of yourself

We spend far too much time seeking approval of others.
Approval is something we all want in our lives.

For instance,
As a child, we look for approval from our parents.
As a wife, I look forward to being complimented by my husband.
As an employee, you naturally expect to be praised for your good work by your employer.

Wanting approval is not bad but NEEDING approval, not being able to survive without others approval is dangerous. If you are one of those people who constantly needs approval, to get on with your life, you’ve got some serious work to do.

Dr Wayne Dyer, says

“Needing approval is tantamount to saying, your view of me is more important than my own opinion of myself”.

To be able to get out of the trap of ‘taking things personally’ you should be able to gain personal fulfilment, know your own worth regardless whether somebody approves of you or not.
Fully approve of yourself. Your opinion of yourself is paramount.

 Give up trying to change people

Are you trying to change people?

Good luck with that!

You can teach people. You can inspire people. You can guide people to be a better version of them but changing others is like fighting a losing battle.

Change comes from within. It cannot be forced onto anybody.

Would you agree if somebody tried to change you?
I bet you’d disapprove of it.

Then why is it fair for you to change anybody else?
Who are you to think that you know better for anybody out there?

If you have the habit of taking things personally, take a step back and think about this.
Is it easier to change somebody or easier to work on yourself?

We often believe the problem is with the outside world.
Everybody else is to blame for how we feel and what happens to us but in reality, we are our own problem.

Hence, instead of wasting time changing others try to go to a deeper level with yourself.

People have their own set of beliefs, mindset, outlook on life and values. You cannot change that. You shouldn’t even try to change that.

Invest your energy, finding somebody who has the characteristics and personality you are looking for.

 Recognize and Choose To Ignore

It is important for you to recognize that when you do take something personally it is usually because you make assumptions.

An assumption is when you believe something to be true or are certain that something will happen without any proof.

You make all kinds of stories to prove our assumptions right. You fill in the blanks without any solid evidence. That’s why you end up taking everything personally.

You have to recognize that whatever person x, y or z says about you has nothing to do with you.

Usually, when somebody’s being nasty or rude to you it is because they are having problems of their own. They are trying to channel their frustration onto you and you do not have to let it get to you.

You are a separate entity to anybody out there. You have full control over your thoughts and feelings.

Therefore, when anybody tries to project their emotions all over you or blame you unnecessarily, that is most likely stemming from them feeling hurt or angry.

Recognize such behaviours and choose to ignore them.

 Change your Outlook

Assume you’re on the road driving and suddenly someone cuts you off. What do you do?
Your initial response is to get irritated, throw your hands in the air and call out names.

At this stage, you have already assumed that the person cutting you off has done so on purpose. So you take it personally and become frustrated.

What if I asked you to shift your perspective?
What if you assumed the following?

That person could be having a rough day or urgently trying to get to the hospital, or it’s simply their personality.

Isn’t that better?

A simple shift in perspective can make a whole lot of difference.

“There is a huge amount of FREEDOM that comes when you take nothing personally”

 Don Miguel Ruiz

“People will love you, people will hate you and none of it will have anything to do with you”

Abraham Hicks

Over To You :

What's your thought about taking things personally? Has it affected your life?
What strategies do you have in place to avoid taking things personally?
I would love to hear from you.

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  1. Great suggestions, we all need to step back and reassess sometimes.

  2. Hi Hema

    Love this post as you are so right. Some people take things so personal and issues that mean nothing are big issues for others.

    I have learnt however, that everyone has his own opinion so when people say things about me, It is just their mindset about me.

    I love the part you mentioned about changing people. This is one area that causes lots of conflict among people. As you brilliantly shared, it is best to allow one to be changed from within and sometimes people resist when you try to challenge their mindset.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful week.


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