It is a harsh but real truth: people who believe that everything happening around them is somehow all about them, or a direct assault on them as a person, are simply toxic. The “it’s all about me” mentality can be exhausting to deal with, but you may not even recognize that you do it sometimes, too. This is just one of those bad habits that are simply easier to recognize in other people than yourself.
What people do and say to you tends to say far more about them than it does about you. The way people react to you is rooted in their experiences, wounds and personal perspectives. The things they’ve dealt with in life and the joy and pain they’ve had, all color their perspective on the world and the people in it.
Whether someone thinks you’re the worst or you’re simply amazing, it’s still more about them and how they view the world than how you actually are as a person.
This, of course, doesn’t mean you should be a full-on narcissist who ignores all commentary, criticism and opinions you get from others. It simply means that the vast amounts of sadness, disappointment and hurt that pop up in our lives tend to come right from our unfortunate tendency to take everything personally.
In many cases, it’s far more healthy and productive to let go of people’s opinions of you, whether good or bad, and go by your own wisdom and intuition instead. In the end, it’s your own road to the truth.
If you find yourself struggling when it comes to taking things personally, you’re certainly not alone. Try these three simple ways to stop taking everything personally, and free yourself from the burden of living to please everyone but you.
1. Be Careful With Your Responses
If something stressful occurs in a social situation, what is your typical response? Some people go right to action, but immediate action without thinking can cost you. You’ve probably already experienced this at least once in your life and ended up regretting the action you took later. Some people get sad or angry, while others end up feeling sorry for themselves or victimized, wondering why other people behave the way they do.
None of the above responses are helpful or healthy. In fact, if your response is missing a mindful acceptance level, chances are you’re taking things far too personally. This is a pretty common mistake to make, but it’s also not too hard to prevent.
When people do something we don’t agree with, it tends to seem like a personal attack. When your child doesn’t clean their room, for instance, you may feel as if they are defying you on purpose, even if it’s just forgetfulness. If your partner isn’t showing affection for some reason, you may believe they don’t care about you enough, even if it’s actually got nothing to do with you.
When a co-worker behaves inconsiderately, that must mean they don’t like you, but your co-worker is really just having a bad day or time in life right now. And, last but not least, when someone hurts you, it can feel as if everyone else is out to hurt you, too.
Some people become so jaded that they even believe that life in general has it out for them. But, in reality, almost nothing is personal in life. Things happen or they don’t happen, and it’s usually not all about any one specific person. It just is.
People have their own emotional issues that they are trying to deal with, and this can make them rude, defiant and even thoughtless at times. They’re often doing the best they can given the situation, or they may not even be aware of their own issues and the impact they have on other people.
Regardless, you can learn to stop interpreting their behaviors as personal attacks and start to view them as non-personal encounters, like a bee buzzing by or a dog barking down the street. Once you start viewing things in this way, you can decide to respond with a peaceful mindset or just not at all.
2. Use These “Not Personal” Mantras
We’re only human, and despite our best efforts, we still may take some things personally in the heat of the moment. To help mitigate this, you can follow a simple strategy to keep yourself watchful of your response. This is a way to proactively remind you to not take things too personally. When you catch yourself doing so, pause, take a breath, and read the following mantras to yourself:
• Don’t take things too personally, even if the situation seems really personal at first. People usually don’t do things because of you, but because of themselves and their own issues.
• You can’t control everything people do and say to you, but you can decide you won’t be reduced by them.
• Enjoy the vast amount of freedom that comes with detaching yourself from the beliefs and behaviors of others. Remember that the way a person treats you is their problem, but how you react is yours.
• Take any constructive criticism you receive seriously but not personally. Listen and then operate with your wisdom and intuition as a guide.
• Remember you are fine, smart, strong and good enough. You don’t need validation from other people because you’re already valuable.
• If you really want to boost your self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence, don’t let other people be responsible for them. Stop letting others dominate your own emotions!
• Even the coldest, hardest people you meet in life were once as soft as an infant; that’s the tragedy of life. So even when people are rude, be mindful, kind and at your best. Give people around you the break that you hope the world will give you on your own terrible day, and you won’t ever regret it.
3. Let Hate Go
With all the senseless violence you see in the world today, it’s easy to get attached to it. Try not to take it personally and aim to let things go and rise above hate. While there are small groups of people in the world who are trying to build barriers around us, the rest of us can find some way to fly over them. Have a little faith and don’t let yourself get dragged down by nasty, selfish people.
Learning to not take everything personally is often a work in progress, so don’t get upset at yourself when you make a mistake in this area. When emotions run high or you’re just having a rough patch in life, you may default back to your old ways of thinking. If this happens, just remind yourself of all the tips above and repeat the not-personal mantras to yourself. You’ll be back to yourself and the freedom of deciding your own worth in no time!