Do you often get offended when someone criticizes your work?
Do you also get hurt when your partner isn’t as attentive as you wish them to be?
Or you feel revengeful and jump on the ‘You hurt my feelings so I’ll hurt yours’ bandwagon?
Well, all of us are guilty of taking things too personally too often. Even though you get hurt and feel disrespect when someone is rude to you for no good reason, you still replay the scene over and over trying to find faults within you. Dwelling on the negative situations and doubting yourself is the worst that happens when you take things too personally. So, how to not take things personally? Below is a list of 8 mind-blowing ways that helped me stop making everything about me and have more control over myself and my emotions.
1- Know Your Worth
Knowing your worth is the first and the foremost step to stop taking everything personally. Once you realize who you are and what you are capable of, you won’t let any low life hit you deep. Also, when you believe in yourself, people eventually stop pointing fingers at you because you are such a tough cookie to crack.
Realizing your worth not only helps you deal with unpleasant things and people in your life. It also helps stay firm, make decisions, and take actions towards your goals. You no longer feel inferior but rather equal to whoever you interact with whether it be your bosses, your colleagues, or friends. You don’t take any criticism negatively, rather you look into the matter with an open mind and heart. Moreover, once you realize your self-worth you acknowledge the fact that not every little thing is to be pondered over. Life gets messy at times. Someone will criticize the way you walk, talk or dress because you can’t please everyone in a room. But, what you can do is to never doubt yourself and your capabilities based on what other people say.
According to research regarding a Sense of self-worth, you can stop getting affected by what others have to say about you if you believe in yourself. The things you say to yourself affect you more than what the world says about you. So, know who you are and let the negative comments go in one ear and out the other.
Related; Why self-esteem is important in life
2- Never Give Your Power Away
Back in the days when I used to be way too sensitive I often thought ‘Why do I take things too personally?’ ‘Why do I let these mean people and harsh words affect me so much?’ It was then when I realized where I am going wrong. The moment you react and be upset, angry, or frustrated over something someone said to you is the moment you give them the power over your brain. Beware of the fact that oftentimes people say mean things just because they want to see how you react. They deliberately go down the rabbit hole only to make you feel worse about yourself.
Also, remember that if you remain firm and unbothered by whatever the critics have to say then they’ll stop eventually. However, if you give them the power over yourself then you go round in circles only to end up nowhere. They say something rude, you get upset or frustrated, and they win! Instead, be aware of your personal power. Some of the tactics that helped me stop taking things so personally and gain personal power are;
a) Accepting responsibility for how you feel
b) Stop wasting energy complaining
c) Practicing healthy boundaries
d) Choosing a different line of thought rather than the one I am fed
e) Knowing my values
d) Never comparing myself and my life to what others portray
e) Being productive
f) Avoiding thoughts that make me feel like a loser
g) Forgiving the other person whether they apologize or not
If nothing helps try taking deep breaths and repeat a calming mantra like ‘ I won’t allow anyone to have control over myself.’
‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’Eleanor Roosevelt
3- Identify The Source Of Criticism
Would you get as upset at a stranger shouting at you from their car while you are trying to find an address and so driving slowly? Or would you consider the words of your friend who bashes you for not submitting your assignment on time just because of you being a procrastinator? Well, in the former case you shouldn’t let the rudeness of the stranger get to your head. While in the latter you would feel upset initially. But eventually, you’ll understand that it was the concern that compelled them to treat you harshly. Either way, the fact of the matter is that before letting anything get to you consider the source.
The next time your mind compels you to take things too personally, try asking yourself some questions like;
Does this person know me?
Do I have any feelings of respect or liking for this person?
Does this person have a habit of making irrelevant and unwanted comments?
Or, is he someone whose words really matter?
Once you identify the source and whether that particular person really matters or not, you won’t let anything affect you so badly afterward. Also, consider the tone of that person while analyzing their words. If you feel hate and disrespect towards yourself then better kick that source out of your life. On the other hand, if it is said with care and respect, then you might consider pondering over it. In a nutshell, considering the source of the criticism will help you in identifying whether to take the comments wholeheartedly or to shrug them off your shoulders.
4- It’s Not Always About You
Why do you take things personally? Why do you think about every single action of what other people do in your presence? Because you think everything they do is about you. However, the reality is quite the opposite.
Mostly, the reason for our taking everything negatively is because we are too rigid in our perspective and too conceited in our presence. Whenever we interact with someone we just think about what we want. For instance, if you had an important presentation and one of your colleagues went outside to attend a call or just checked on her phone, how would you feel? If your partner didn’t receive your call but was busy on another call when you tried a moment later, how would you feel? Further, if you see a picture of your friend having dinner outside but had refused going out with you, how would you feel? You would certainly feel hurt and disrespected.
However, the truth here is you only know your side of the story. Only if you learn to shift your focus from ‘me’ to ‘you’ would you be able to understand the intentions of other people. So, maybe your colleague had received an important call or text which they were waiting for. Maybe your partner had just picked up their phone to call back you but received another call while doing so. Or maybe the friend who had refused you just got a surprise dinner which even they were clueless about.
Although it might sound simple, it is easier said than done. Training your mind from thinking ‘How could they do that to me,’ to ‘It’s not about me,’ takes time and effort. But, it certainly helps in stopping you from taking things personally.
Related; 5 effective ways to be non-judgmental in practice
5- Look Through A Different Lens
What if I tell you that you are not affected by what happens around you but by how you interpret the situation. Intrigued right? Well, that’s how I felt when I came across this theory of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) introduced by Albert Ellis in the 1950s.
According to this theory, people have two types of beliefs namely, rational and irrational. Interestingly, most of our beliefs are irrational, which doesn’t have to do anything with reality. In simpler words, your interpretation of a situations triggers an emotion within you which in turn sparks a reaction.
Let me walk you through an example to have a better understanding;
Suppose you send a text message to your friend, who in spite of being online doesn’t respond to your message, while you keep on waiting for hours. How do you interpret this situation? You would certainly think along the lines of, ‘she ignored me or I am unimportant to her or she doesn’t even like me.’ This sparks feelings of hurt and sadness within you. You may even feel resentful and vow to yourself to never text them again.
But, wait how did you come to this conclusion? It is your interpretation of the situation that led you to take things too personally even when the other person didn’t intend to. A better approach would be to look through a different lens. Try walking in the other person’s shoes sometimes. You would realize that life is not as black and white as it seems to be. You need to be a little considerate and accommodating of others.
So, question your beliefs if you start taking things personally. Replace your irrational thoughts with rational ones. Like I said earlier, the intentions of other people are never known to you, so, be less serious.
6- Let Things Go
While I advised you to be less serious, you might have thought ‘but how can I be less serious?’ Because I certainly did when someone suggested me that. Well, it is easier to jump the gun and say something like that. People don’t even shy away from saying ‘don’t take it personally,’ after being nothing less than a sledgehammer. However, the best you could do in these situations is to let them be.
People say rude things. They are mean at times. What’s worse is that they are unapologetic about it even. So, let them be. Let things go. Consider bad situations and mean people as lessons. Try to not be like them at least. Vow to never be mean and rude to someone because you have experienced how it makes the person feels.
Let painful memories evade. Holding onto pain does nothing more than making you feel worse. Forgive even when you don’t get an apology. A research journal published in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, on the Art of Forgiveness suggests that forgives is so vital an act that it leads to personal development. Although, one might think of forgiveness as a weakness. But, in reality, it is a strength because only a stronger person would be brave enough to let go of bitter memories. The weaker on the other hand will hold on to them and make their life miserable.
The bottom line is, if you want to not take things personally learn to forgive and forget. Let people be. Let things go. After all, life is imperfect and everything won’t go according to your wish. However, you can certainly move on and be less serious about it.
Related; 7 Ways to Let Go of Things You Can’t Control
7- Don’t Jump to Conclusions
Oftentimes, the reason for our taking things personally is that we jump to conclusions too soon. We are quick to judge the other person, their actions, words, and intentions. Half-truths are believed to be a complete reality. One rude word or one impolite gesture and we doubt all the kindness and sincerity that a person had shown previously. This is why we feel hurt, anger, sadness, or betrayal within us because we quickly jump to conclusions.
However, whatever the other person does or says has nothing to do with you. But, it has everything to do with them. If a person says mean things to you it is because they know nothing other than being mean to others. If someone passes a judgment at everything that you do it is because of their desire to control your every move. And like I said earlier, people are mean at times. What they think about is only themselves, their well-being, their desires, and their wishes. People think about everything that revolves around them. So, stop making it about you.
Also, jumping to conclusions comes with a trail of negative thoughts and situations. You assume someone doesn’t like you. You assume they don’t respect you and you respond in the same manner. This ruins your values, plunging you to a level you never thought you would.
So, whatever a person says only reflects who they are. You only need to have an open mind. Look things through and act rationally.
8- Never Go Down The Drain
When people spill hate on you or belittle you for no apparent reason, your instant reaction might be to pay in the same coin. It might feel satisfying at the moment. The instant you see the defeat in their eyes makes you feel like a hero. However, no matter what you feel at the moment, you’ll certainly regret it later. Snapping someone is easier. Making the other person have a taste of their own medicine is simpler. But, taking the higher road is difficult. Would you lower your ethics and morality only to make the other person feel the same? Or, would you let it go in one ear and out the other because you are too busy to engage in petty talks? Well, I assume you have your answer now!
So, no matter what the other person says or does, never jump down the rabbit hole. Playing in a puddle will only make you dirty eventually.
Taking things personally is something we have all been guilty of. However, it eats up your peace of mind and happiness. So, no matter how hard it may seem to not take things personally, it is something that you should practice and train your mind into. Practice these eight tips mentioned above and you’ll certainly feel a sense of freedom and peace of mind that comes with it. Follow the eight strategies mentioned above and do let us know what helped you the most in the comments section below!