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You need to stop taking things personally. It’s not that serious.
If I hear that one more time, I think I might scream.
Or how about this one:
You’re being super sensitive, just chill out.
I don’t know why these statements are emotional triggers for me, but they are. When people say things like this, it almost feels like a personal attack or a threat to the essence of who I am; but really, this should not be the case.
Sometimes during job interviews — when asked the question what is your biggest weakness — my answer to that usually is I care way too much about everything I do. I take things really personally because I care very deeply about the success of everyone and the work that I do.
Sharing how much “care” I have and why I take things so personally in everything I do, fares really well in the interviewers’ eyes. And you know what — they love that answer.
But why, you may ask? Why is this answer such a bad thing or a sign of weakness?
To uncover this, first, we must find out why we — humans — take things so personally.
Let’s Get a Little Personal
Because of our nature as human beings, we partially define who we are by the significant relationships we form with others. Sometimes, we depend on others for our own happiness, emotional health, and financial security. And sometimes, even for safety.
When we look to “others” to fulfill our needs, we look to them to satisfy and fulfill us by caring for us, supporting us, giving to us and encouraging us.
But what happens when that fulfillment turns all the way left? What happens when “others” become judgmental, rude, critical, aggressive, or even abusive? What is the end result of this?
According to Psychology Today, when we look to others to fulfill our needs, we end up giving a lot of ourselves to make “others” happy and comfortable. Moreover, we feel that we need “others” in our lives and we need to do everything we can on our part to make them happy and keep the “peace”. Talk about pressure.
As a result, this often leads to hypersensitivity and causes us to take things really personally. This behavior also shows the tremendous power that “others” have over us. We are willing to give “others” more power than they are allowed to have.
Taking things personal means you are willing to be tied down to others.
You give others permission to tell you who the French you are.
You unspokenly (or spoken, your pick) tell others that it’s okay to tell you how you should believe and feel. By doing this, you’re letting them know that it’s cool to treat you however they want because they can.
Yes, my friends, it’s that deep and it’s that serious.
Literally, no wonder why my job interviews go so well with that answer to the biggest weakness question. It’s because I’m willing to give them some sort of power over me. That’s just wild to think about.
Imagine if I start telling “others” the answer I gave at my interview; I would be giving more people free power over me as well.
Awww hellllll nahhhhh. Time to fix. this.
So, How Do We Stop Taking Things So Personal?
Man, I wish the answer to this was as simple as telling Siri to play Monica’s Don’t Take it Personal.
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Unfortunately, it’s not. So let’s figure this ish out with these 7 tips below.
Don’t jump to conclusions – you’re not a frog.
This is how your power gets snatched — quickly — like a lace front wig in a heavy wind storm. Most of the time, when people are coming at you with that boopity bop, your first instinct is to pounce at them with your words.
Instead, assume that it’s not all about you and that their actions are a reflection of the projected perceptions they see of themselves. Usually, when people lash out, it is almost always about them and has absolutely nothing. to. do. with. you. OKAY? Ok.
Remember, that the only thing you can control is how you react to these situations. So keep that power of control. Don’t give it up, ever!
Understand your emotional triggers.
Your emotions are nothing to be afraid of. Certain things or triggers that people do or say can make us feel some type of way and we might not know why that is in the moment. Later in the day, try to figure out why those triggers make you feel the way that you do.
First, explain the situation and ask yourself these questions:
Is this the first time you’ve noticed this emotional trigger? Does this trigger relate to a situation you’ve dealt with in the past? Why do you feel so tied down to this trigger? Can I overcome this trigger? Why or why not? How do I respond next time if I can’t overcome this trigger?
Stating these answers clearly in an emotional journal as they happen can help you greatly. An emotional journal is a good idea for you to have so that you can keep your emotions in check. In the journal, you can write down positive solutions/reminders of how to react the next time those triggers come by.
Control your emotions.
This is still a struggle for me, but I am learning. As a very emotional person, this can get me into trouble sometimes; especially when it comes to taking things personally. Sometimes you may even catch me crying before I start talking.
Before this happens, this is where you need to separate the mind from the heart. Instead of leading with emotion, separate yourself mentally from the situation. Take the time to think and break down what is actually going on right in front of you and see if you can pivot and find a solution or find a better reaction/emotion on how to respond.
Ugh, in walks the devil. The best thing to do here is not to create something negative that is not already there in your mind. If someone looks at you a certain way that you don’t like, do not overthink this and make up something that could be further from the truth. You are only making yourself feel worse when you do this.
Even if the negative thought exists in your mind, try to refocus your mind on something else and mentally trick your mind by telling it, I’ll be back to this thought and end up not thinking about the negative thought again. If the thought tries to sneak back up on you, block it immediately with a safe word, another thought, or soothing music.
Also, do not make up fake things in your mind and try to make it a reality when it is not. For instance, if someone says something critical or negative to you, do not make up a thread of fake stories in your head about said person and share it with others. Taking things personally in this way can lead to spreading gossip, stressing yourself out from overthinking, and looking like the bad guy who gossips all the time.
Instead, watch your thoughts carefully, be the bigger person and let that negativity go! Or rather, chalk it up to childishness but whatever you do, do not overthink or react negatively because that only hurts you in the end.
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Letting things go.
If it’s out of your control, simply just let it go. Don’t hold grudges on past experiences. Also, don’t hold negative perceptions about yourself that others have made about you or believe that you are. Instead, learn from those experiences and use them as a way to empower yourself, build up your self-esteem, and make you the best version of yourself that you can be.
If you can find a way to make light of the situation and find the positive in anything or even joke around with yourself, this may help in not taking things so personal.
Stop trying to please others so much.
Looking to always please others often leads to a lot of hurt and pain because all you’re doing is giving, giving, giving while others are taking, taking, taking and benefiting from your energy.
At work, try to remember that a job is something you do, not something you are. Work is a place based on your performance, not on your individual core morals and values as a human being. So if bosses or coworkers come at you in a negative type of way, try to separate the business from the personal. Remember that how you react in any situation is always your choice.
At home or with your friends, this choice can also be applied because when you have a firm idea of who you are as a person, no one or anything can affect your sensitivity in any way. And therefore, a good rule of thumb is always to learn more about who you are, what you’re willing to accept/not accept in your space, and how you are working on building your self-esteem and self-worth.
Last but certainly not least, stop giving af.
Literally, if it’s not worth your energy or self-worth, deuces. Setting boundaries is a good way of keeping yourself from getting too attached to people or things. It can even keep in check the things you allow your energy to consume. Let yourself know that you are willingly happy to say no to things that will only harm and drain your emotional, mental, and physical energy. Let yourself know that if you have to, you are also — with no hesitation — willing to separate yourself from things/places that only want to bring you down.
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These are some of the tips I’ve found/used to help me from taking things so personally. What other tips and tricks do you know of that have helped to combat this issue?
Let me know down in the comments below.
20 thoughts on “How to Stop Taking Things Personally”
Love this whole article, but the ending is the best! That’s what it all comes down to, right? It’s easier said than done sometimes, but as I’ve gotten older, I have found it much easier.
yes, same! I remember i used to care so much about what other people taught and I would take that to heart a lot. But now, I am learning to give as little as a penny to thoughts like that. Thank you for stopping by!!
Such a great reminder. Releasing what others think about us brings such freedom and peace. Knowing who we are and walking in our identity can help as well.
Definite amen and a hallelujah to that! Thanks for stopping by!!
Very informative and well described
Thank you so much!!
This post made me feel ALL the emotions! Thank you for reminding me not to be a frog – such a big one for me!!
lol that part cracks me up everytime! Thanks for reading!
Don’t hold negative perceptions about yourself that others have made about you or believe that you are”… this spoke to me. I like it that you acknowledge that it is easier said than done. One step at a time.
So true! One step at a time in this human race. Thank you for reading!
This topic is very interesting. A lot of times, people may take things personally when that wasn’t the intention, especially during business exchanges. I know I do when someone raise their tone at me in a workplace. Otherwise, we cannot take things personally in many situations. I agree with controlling our emotions and letting it go. We can save ourselves so much time. Thanks for sharing this guideline!
Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me
Same, in workplaces, when some raises their tone or catch an attitude, it makes me feel a certain way but I’m learning day by day to not read into that at all. Thank you for reading!
Great post. This is indeed Something I need to work on. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much and thank you for stopping by!!
Yes, I need to follow your advice for sure. I do take things a little bit too personally. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for stopping by!! xx
Definitely guilty of this! I’m such an over-thinker, but I do think I’m getting better at not trying to please everyone as I grow older. Thanks for the insightful post, Josie!
Same! I overthink way too much but Im working on it. Thanks for stopping by!! xx
I loved this article! So much resonates as I’ve had a looong history with taking things personally even when I KNEW the issues were within other people. The cycle can be hard to break. All of your tips make sense, particularly the last one—sometimes you have to simply stop caring period aka not giving AF 🙂
It’s so true about the cycles being hard to break, especially when we know that we have the power to break them. Hooo it takes a lot of work! Thank you for sharing!!