We all tend to take things too personally at times—and some of us, more than others. When this happens, some of us deal with it better than others.
Taking things too personally does not bode well for any relationship—whether at work, with friends, with a partner, or in a parenting relationship for many reasons. When we take things too personally, we simply put our feelings at the mercy of others, regardless of whether they attacked you personally or not. And that’s definitely not healthy and more importantly—no way to live. It is like throwing away your happiness.
If you tend to take things too personally
—when people say or do things—here’s a trick that can help.
You need to understand why people do what they do, and then, know that what they do more often than not has nothing to do with us. Hence, no need to take it to heart. To do this, you need to know the following:
People can be selfish
Sad but true. All of us have the tendency to be selfish—some more than others. Those that don’t seem to be, just need the right circumstances to become selfish.
When we understand and accept the fact that people can be selfish, we also understand that often people:
- Will think only in terms of what is best for them
- Will see things from their point of view
- Will want to be right about everything
- Will always want to have things go their way
- Will never stop to think how what they do affects others
…and so on!
And so, sometimes people will do what they do just because the motivation is—you guessed it—selfishness! And when that is the motivation, why should we take things personally? Their actions have nothing to do with us. In fact, they just demonstrated how selfish they are.
So, for example, someone cuts you when you are driving. Do you take it personally? No. You just tell yourself that this person just showed you how selfish they are by doing what they did. It is nothing personal!
There’s always a reason why people do what they do
It is a fact. That does not mean they are always right about what they do—and neither does it imply that they can be excused for their actions. It also does not mean that they are aware of why they did what they did. Nevertheless, there is always a reason.
The reason could be any one of these:
- Past unmet needs
- Current needs
- Current wants
- Unresolved issues/conflicts from the past
- Past hurts
- Current fears
- Current hang ups
- A hidden agenda/motive
- Past decisions
- Ego problems
- Personality disorders (narcissism, ADD, ADHD, lack of empathy)
… and so on!
So, people will do what they do motivated by who they are and the baggage they’re carrying. When this happens, there’s no reason for us to take things too personally. In fact, their actions are a result of whatever internal issues they’re harboring and these have nothing to do with us.
A young child once said “I love you” to his step mother. And she replied saying he had a funny way of showing it. Now the child was hurt by her response, naturally. He needs to understand that even though her reply was uncalled for, it only shows who she is as a person. It had nothing to do with him.
Point is, the trick to not take things too personally when people say or do things is to understand and accept that people can be selfish and/or have issues—that their behavior has nothing to do with us. It only shows who they are. Knowing this helps shift the focus from you and place it on them, so that you stop being sensitive and shift the onus on them.
Here’s a short quiz you can take to find out if you take things too personally.
And some more questions here.
Wednesday Wisdom is a series with short bursts of easy-to-consume wisdom in the form of inspiring stories, verse, quotes, anecdotes, reflections, easy meditation, thought-provoking questions and humor. Yeah, some days are not so short.