We are all guilty of this. It is in our nature to want to belong and be liked as social creatures. The thing is taking things personally all the time can have a negative effect on our peace of mind and well-being. It is okay to feel this way at times. We are human. We feel emotions. If not, we would be a psychopath, but we should learn not to allow taking things personally to consume our lives that it creates a world of misery and stress. I like to discuss a couple of reasons behind why we may take things personally. Being aware of these habits can help us learn why we may do this, and help us move forward, so that we don’t continue to fall into this trap.
- Perfectionism-Not only do you want to be perfect for yourself. You want to appear perfect in front of others. This need to be perfect makes it hard for one to cope with criticism and judgment. It will hurt your pride when someone tells you that you made a mistake, or there is a flaw in your work. This criticism can be well intentioned, but your need to be perfect makes it hard for you to listen or reason. You think this is an attack on you.
The problem with being a perfectionist is that it is unrealistic. You are not perfect. No one is. Once you accept this. It becomes easier to handle criticism without taking it too personally. It will still sting at first, but you will realize that their criticism can help you grow. Now if the criticism isn’t helpful, or it comes from someone who doesn’t know you. There is nothing to be upset about. They don’t know you, and don’t care about your feelings and thoughts, so why care so much about them? The only opinion you should focus on is the ones that help you grow and evolve as a person, or on your skillset.
- Putting others before oneself-Your thoughts and feelings don’t matter. Others matter more. I am happy if others are happy, so you can see why it would be easy to take things personally if others opinion are more important than your own. You will try your best to please others.
There is nothing wrong with trying to please others, but your opinion of yourself, and taking care of your needs should come first. People will say things that will hurt you, but if you value yourself and your opinions. Your self-confidence will deflect that hurtful language, especially coming from strangers.
- Lack of confidence-Going along with the last habit. The lack of appreciation of yourself and your strengths can be a trigger for taking things personally.
If you have confidence, and truly believe in what you can do. If you focus on your strengths, rather your weaknesses. It makes it easier to not take things personally. You have flaws. You won’t do things perfectly. You will make mistakes, but I know I have plenty of great qualities that makes me an awesome person. Once you recognize this, taking things personally won’t be as much of an issue.
- Storytelling-As I mentioned before, our thoughts are our stories. We create scenarios in our head of a situation. It isn’t always based on the facts. We may think this person is out to get us, or they hate us, or they just don’t like me. But it is all in how we think about the situation that creates anger and frustration, not the situation itself. We tend to create stories that make us the victim, and the other person the villain. It can be a good story, but it doesn’t mean it is true.
Cognitive mediation is the idea that things in the world don’t cause emotions. Instead, it’s our thoughts about things that affect how we feel(medium.com)
A person cuts you off, someone isn’t listening to you, someone doesn’t say hi back to you. Your thoughts about these situations trigger your response. Not the situation itself. There are plenty of responses you can take here. Get mad, or angry. Insult them. Get upset that they pissed you off, and ruined your day. You can also take a step back, breathe, recognize their mistake, or maybe the person didn’t hear you, maybe the person had an important place to go, maybe the person listening had other things on their mind. It isn’t always about you. Also recognize that you probably made these same mistakes as well. No one is perfect. You got to remember not everyone thinks the same, or has the same set of values. What may be offensive to you, may not be for another.
- Your surrounded by negative people-If it is growing up in a toxic household, or in a toxic relationship, or friendship. These people can help define who you are and how you think. If they treat you like crap, and say harsh things about you. The belief in these thoughts will set in. It is much easier to break someone down, than to lift them up. You become more sensitive to others input when all you heard about yourself were negative things. This can also go for toxic positivity as well. If you are constantly saying positive things. The person may not react to criticism very well. We need a balance to thrive as individuals.
It is important to be around people who make you feel good. Who help build you up. Who help you grow. No one has time for toxic relationships(negative or positive). The best bet is to remove yourself from the source. That isn’t always easy. I am not saying it is easy, but it needs to be done to live a life with less self-hatred and criticism.
- Toxic positivity-There is such a thing as too much positivity. Being positive is great. Better that, than negative, but we also need negativity in our lives. Like is not perfect. People are not perfect. The inability to see flaws, mistakes, and the bad is a problem. Just focusing on the good can make things difficult for an individual when things don’t go smoothly, or their mistakes and flaws are mentioned. They will feel offended and take it too personally.
Life has its ups and downs. The good and the bad. People have their strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging this makes it easier to cope with criticism and not take things too personally. If they recognize your flaws, so do you, nothing new, keep it moving.
- Recognize the trolls/negative people-There are people, especially online that want to bring others down to their level. They want to hurt others. They want to upset others. Why give them that power? Don’t give them what they want. Remember the source. Don’t let a stranger/associate dictate how you feel about yourself. Everyone’s opinion doesn’t matter to you. Think, is this helping me?, no, then move on.
Always remember to think, is this benefiting me or not? Take in what can help you, and ignore the ones that do not. No need to stress over an opinion that doesn’t matter. That opinion doesn’t define you. The person that does is you.
You can never stop the sting of taking things personally. It will happen to all of us. You can just learn habits or tricks that can help reduce the intensity and duration of these feelings. There is no need to suffer over what others think of you. I am sure there are plenty of others who think you are awesome. Focus on what is important. Your opinion, and the opinion of others who build you up.