Hello my friends!
This week I wanted to share some insights I’ve been having about the topic of taking things personally.
Learning to release the need to personalize the actions of others has been a huge, lifelong journey for me. I have always been one to quickly jump into writing a story about people’s behaviors and placing myself at the center of it. This is oftentimes painful, confusing, and most often, completely out of touch with the truth of the matter.
Years ago, I read don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, which impacted me deeply, particularly on this topic. He says, “Don’t take anything /personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
I reflect back on these words often, as they aways serve as a helpful, powerful reminder to not take things personally and that I have the power to pick myself up out of the suffering that comes along with that.
Not taking things personally is a practice, and I believe that it’s a practice that we work on throughout life. Just like with everything else though, personal growth and development is a journey, not a quick fix, and not taking things personally is certainly a part of that journey. This practice will have its ups and downs, but hold steady in knowing that it is worth the time, effort, and energy.
I will admit that not taking things personally is definitely an easier said than done sort of deal, but I am here for you to help you, and hopefully walk you through some steps you can take to start to find this relief in your relationships with others and with yourself.
1. Cultivate awareness. I believe awareness is always the most important step towards any sort of growth or change; however, in this practice it’s the most paramount. Without awareness, the mind will always go into the habitual practice of taking the actions of others, personally. It’s just how it will work. But, in recognizing that we would like to change this behavior, and reminding ourselves regularly of this intention, we can start to make that positive shift, and ultimately begin to break the habit.
2. Remember that we are all living life through our own unique filter. This one was a big one for me in my own journey. So often I would assume that other people were seeing situations or experiences exactly as I was, which, of course, is never the case. We are all unique! With different paths, beliefs, views, and experiences. It’s likely that we will never see a situation or circumstance 100% the same as someone else, so just remember this when starting to take someone else’s opinions, actions, or views personally. Others have a perception of what’s happening and so do you.
3. Strengthen your discernment muscle. It is so beneficial to our own mental health and to our relationships to be able to discern what situations require action and attention and which ones simply do not. I’d like to think of this step as a “pick your battles” suggestion, because as human beings, we could take everything personally and go to battle about every single one of those things. And we would be fighting about it all until the end of time. This is a step in learning about yourself, what matters to you, and what you wish to go to bat for. So start to take notice of what things you can let go, and what things you need to stand up for.
4. Speak your truth when necessary. From our own discernment, we can determine if a situation requires further action. Grounded in your own sense of self and confidence, you can speak up and speak out if a circumstance truly requires a conversation. Know that just because you’re not taking something personally, you can still speak up about something if it doesn’t feel aligned or appropriate for you.
5. Forgive, release, move forward. Usually when I’ve taken something too much to heart I hold a feeling of resentment or anger towards that person. For example if a friend cancels dinner plans abruptly, I may immediately take it personally thinking maybe I did something wrong for her to cancel, or maybe I might think, “Wow! Thant’s rude for her to cancel last minute.” When in reality maybe she was just having a really bad day, and needed space. The point here is that the mind immediately begins writing stories about what’s happening and we have absolutely no idea. It’s important to recognize this so that you can forgive and release those attachments to a situation that never had anything to do with you in the first place.
I hope these simple, powerful, and not always easy steps are helpful for you in your journey to not taking the actions of others personally!
Wishing you beautiful rest of your week.