HOW TO stop taking things personally
Perhaps you have had the experience of saying something to a loved one with zero intentions of upsetting them. To have them say something in return displaying to you how they were offended and indeed upset. You were sitting there listening to them or reading their text most likely with your mouth dropped open wondering how what you said was offensive.
Another experience you may have had is someone saying something to you and a visceral response occurring directly after they said it. You were maybe upset, felt tears coming, and your heart started beating, palms sweating with the response to what they said. Then when you express how upset you are to them, they in return are dumbfounded as to why you will be offended by what they said.
The breakdown in communication is often directly correlated to the other person or us taking something personally, being unable to let it go in the moment, or the inability to empathize and understand where we are coming from.
Sometimes if someone is being rude with their words a boundary needs to be set. In a lot of situations when we take something personally it is because we at one point or currently believe a part of what they said or it takes us back to a childhood trauma to the point of us feeling we are re-living the childhood trauma.
Perhaps you have had the experience of feeling as if people you loved were putting you into a box with their opinions by making definitive statements about you personally. You might be thinking, how could I NOT take this personally if it is about me? It is possible, here I will go into detail on how to stop taking things personally.
TIPS ON HOW TO STOP TAKING EVERYTHING PERSONALLY:
TAKE A BEAT
Someone has said something offensive to you, you are upset, you might be crying, you might want to give this person a piece of your mind, in this moment is most likely the exact moment you need to take a beat. Display self control, for yourself, and not to say something or do something you will hugely regret later.
Decide to take a break from the interaction if you are upset. Let the other person know you are frustrated and how you will need time to process what they said before answering. It is helpful to give them a timeframe of when you will be able to talk about this topic again, do not use taking a break as a way to avoid the topic. Taking a break is a way to diffuse the topic to then have the ability to discuss a topic with calmness, grace, and from a place of love (resulting in a much better outcome).
Great to keep in mind when upset
- A) If you feel you don’t have anything nice to say, then do not say anything at all.
- B) If you feel you MAY say something you will regret, do not say anything at all.
- C) If you need to leave the interaction, let the other person know when you will talk to them again.
When we do feel upset with someone’s words or actions we need to take time to process this. We have the ability to process our emotions in a journal, at the gym, on a walk, on a bike ride, on a hike, or in meditation or prayer. Continuously explore ways helping you to process your emotions before you react, your well-being is your responsibility and you deserve peace of mind.
Reacting to a person before processing your own feelings will often cause a lot of heartache, emotional upset, and the need for forgiveness if you say something you cannot take back.
By processing our feelings first we will be able to communicate to the other person exactly what bothered us and how we are able to adjust the expectations to meet both of the people’s needs in the situation and situations moving forward.
When you are taking a beat, also truly reflect on your feelings and the triggers, utilize this time to explore who you truly are. If a person made a definitive statement about you, it makes it easier to let go when we truly know ourselves. When we have taken the time to process our true inner being, our inner world, then when someone says something about us, it will not be digested.
It makes it easier to roll off when we know for sure what they are saying is not true about us and instead something they perceive to be true in the moment. We are then able to hold space for their views while letting what they say roll off.
SEEK TO UNDERSTAND
If the person is flat out being rude, you need to set a boundary. If they are truly coming from a good place by them feeling they are giving you feedback, advice, or telling you something they feel you need to hear, then seek to understand. Often people have preconceived notions of agreements they made with the world by how they relate to the world themselves. They believe they know how things are supposed to go, when they see something different it might be painful for them because then the need to question everything they thought was true will come up to the surface for them to face. Take into consideration the country they were raised in, their family views and beliefs they were raised in, their birth order, their role in their family, their moods, and more, if in the moment you do not know any of these, seek to understand from a place of love. When possible, as much as possible, seek to come from a place of gratitude, gracefulness, and understanding.
Having a personal spirituality practice highly cultivates gratitude, love, forgiveness, and understanding for others, and this directly affects your health. There are many studies founded on people’s aches, pains, illnesses disappearing after they have taken a practice of forgiveness. Imagine the resentment, the hurts, the madness as an entity in your body, a mass, you would not want a mass of junk in your body, it must come out, imagine letting it go, let it go.
Another helpful imagery is to imagine your hurt, pain, resentment, anger, is a burning rock. If you hold onto this burning rock it will burn your hand, if you throw the burning rock at someone else it will burn your hand first and damage them greatly, then what is the best action to do with the burning rock?
Drop it peacefully, fully letting the rock go.
First truly take a moment to analyze what brought the rock to you in order to make better choices in the future, then forgive yourself, forgive others, and then completely forget about it and do not bring it up in conversations. This is a good imagery of true forgiveness.
AVOID RABBIT HOLES
If someone has gone into a negative cycle, you MUST not climb down the rabbit hole with them.
Please believe us when we say, we have been there, we know you love them, I know you respect them, I know they are someone you care deeply about and you may want to invest all your time and emotional energy in improving someone’s mindset, do NOT do it!
The only way to pull someone up is if you are slightly higher in mindset, on the ground, figuratively then them. Our responsibility, the ultimate life experience is to live in our highest selves everyday.
Some days will be horrible, in those days, as a person having a horrible day it is not fair to aim to bring others with us. If we are lucky enough to have people around us also caring about living in their highest selves they are able to redirect us to start to see things more positively.
If it seems we are unable to redirect a loved one in coming out of the rabbit hole of negativity it is best for us to refocus on ourselves living our best life. I understand this might feel selfish for a lot of ladies reading this, it might sound and feel counterintuitive. The more you care about this person, the harder it will be to stay out of the rabbit hole.
Let’s give an example of a mom and a daughter, where the daughter is going down a rabbit hole.
The Mom, “Darling your grade on your Math test was not great, what do you plan to do about it?”
Daughter, “Oh, my gosh Mom, ugh, you always bother me about my grades.”
Mom, “Well, if you want to do fun things, have me take you to them then your grades are important. Maybe you don’t have time for some of those things if grades are not important to you.”
Daughter, “My life is already so bad, I had a bad day, and now you are going to give me a hard time about grades?”
Mom, “Oh, sorry to see you had a bad day, I’m not aiming to give you a hard time, only aiming to have a conversation with you about how you can do better in your grades. I feel you are capable of this.”
Here above the Mom did not start feeling sorry for the daughter and allowing her bad day affect the conversation to the point of enabling or letting her believe she could only made bad grades. Also, the Mom did not start feeling sorry for herself stating to her daughter that she also had a bad day or how she has many bad days too.
The rabbit hole will never end. The best way to improve a situation with a person being negative and critical, is to diffuse the situation, do NOT react.
Do NOT take what they personally.
DO NOT let what they say sink in.
Do NOT swallow (imaginative) what they say personally about you.
Imagine their words are water drops and your skin became like a ducks skin, the water drops continually role off, nothing soaks in.
Be careful about what you allow to soak in and be careful/sensoring about what you expose yourself to give the possibility to sink in unconsciously. You know the saying, “Take the high road.”
I understand you may care deeply about a person and seeing them go down the rabbit hole of negativity, self-pity, self-loathing, selfishness, hatred, darkness is one of the most painful things to watch.
If they are saying horrible things while going to their rabbit hole being on the receiving end of their sharp insults is hell on Earth. Please, let go of any responsibility to go in the rabbit hole with them.
It is NOT YOUR JOB to save them from themselves.
The best thing you can do for them is to not take anything personally they say and aim to redirect them in a positive way.
If they are unable to hear your positive redirections and guidance, you may need to distance yourself in the moment.
You can also make an effort to ask them, “I see you’re upset, how can I support you right now?”
If you clearly see they need some time to process their true emotions, let them be.
If this comes to being toxic for you and you decide to distance yourself you do not need to tell them you are distancing yourself, just do it. Limit time with them, limit time talking and thinking about them, and redirect your focus on your own well-being.
LET THINGS GO
When we hold onto past regrets, past hurts this creates poison in our cells, actual toxicity. Yes, it has been measured scientifically, how the water structure in our cells drastically changes because of feelings of forgiveness, gratitude, and gratefulness.
There is no need to keep rolodex of what people did to you, let it go!
It is not going to help anyone for you to regurgitate this one time, in the kitchen, two years ago, someone said this to you and this made you feel horrible, and now you have a preconceived notion about this person, and anyone who says something similar.
NO, stop it, STOP it today, right now!
Forgiveness is the most selfless, healthy, loving thing you can do for yourself and your health, it is not fully for the other person, it is mostly for you!
Refocus on understanding the person instead of finding flaws, things to correct, and errors.
We all know a person in our lives whom as soon as they feel fearful of someone discovering them, their ego kicks in to defend themselves and to aim to convince those around them they are perfect. The infamous, ‘it’s not me, it’s you,’ shift in dynamic to control the situation. The spinning cycle becomes tiring, and please do not get on the hamster wheel with them of ‘you did this, no you did this’.
In order to aim to convince people they are not at fault and are perfect (which no one is), they bring in past hurts and slights whether perceived or true that they felt from you.
An example of a couple talking where one has taken things personally and has not let things go,
Stacey says, “Stephen, I’ve noticed when you say something to me in a sarcastic way, it often triggers a bad feeling because I feel you are not fully acknowledging my feelings in the moment, perhaps not fully hearing me. It is important for me to feel heard when we are talking, do you feel you can be a little less sarcastic? Do you feel you have been sarcastic before with me?”
Stephen replies to you, “Oh really, ha, Stacey, really though!? So typical of you to bring this up. Remember that time, in the kitchen you were sarcastic with me. I guess you’re the sarcastic one here, huh?”
Stacey is left feeling confused and still not heard.
Stacey replies, “Oh yes, the time in the kitchen, I felt we had already discussed this in detail, that was one year ago, I’m bringing up something that happened yesterday. Do you mind if we focus on the topic at hand?”
Stephen says, “Well, it is a valid point because it is you whom is sarcastic.”
Here in the conversation above one person is aiming to be heard and move the relationship to growth and empowerment, while the other is unable to take any accountability for their actions and took past hurts personally. With Stephen bringing up past hurts from months or years ago, it displays continued hurt from these events, it does not display acceptance and forgiveness. With Stacey bringing up something happening yesterday in a non judging or accusatory way, it displays her ability to move the relationship to growth.
STOP JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS AND MAKING ASSUMPTIONS
I’m going to go as far to say, in a lot of communication we may have NO idea what the other person actually means, the first time we hear them say it.
There is a mirage of reasons someone may not understand you the first time you say something to them, or you hear them clearly. Often it is because we are extremely distracted in our culture, with all of the gadgets around, with a lot of stress flowing around in our heads, with tons of tasks to do, we might be overwhelmed. Therefore, someone misunderstanding us might be more common than someone understanding the first time we say something.
The communication loop becomes tiresome if we feel we are continuously repeating ourselves to a person who is not listening. The best way to break this loop and reestablishing a new loop is to have great sentences to say when we feel we may have misunderstood someone or to say when someone may have misunderstood us.
When we do not quite feel we understand someone we can say, “To make sure I’m understanding you fully, I hear you saying (you want to go to the movies yet you do not know which movie you want to see and you will like me to tell you which one I want to see)? Is there anything I’m missing?”
Or this can be done at work too, to repeat back to someone what you think they are asking you to do or what they are saying to you.
This small tip improves communication by 500% of even more!
With the world we live in, how busy we are, and we are often distracted. It is our responsibility to ask kindly for more clarity if we do not fully understand something, and often most of us do not fully understand the first time.
Our egos may get in the way when asking for clarity, of course who wants to admit they MAY not understand something.
Also, a person may feel frustrated to reiterate their initial lack of expressive communication, it is still better to ask.
When we ask for clarity it gives the other person time to reflect on if they are actually communicating to you clearly.
If they are rude about your question, understand they might be learning to communicate in a more efficient way. Leave your assumptions out of the communication.
STOP THE COMPARISON GAME
When in communication, especially heated debates or arguments leave the personal comparison or stories out of it, aim to first understand. For example, our cousin Jane’s brother probably did not have the exact same experience as we are describing, aim to focus fully on the person in front of you. Refocus on the person you are talking too without bringing the past and previous experiences with others or with something that happens between the two of you into the equation. Focus on the exact topic at hand, voice any triggers coming up without blame, judgement, or anger. Let go of resentment, fear, blame, judgement and aim to replace them with acceptance, and accountability.
GET TO THE ROOT – THE TIGGER
If something upsets you or another person and you took it personally, take time to ask yourself, ‘Why did this upset me, truly? Was there something that has happened before in my life similar to this?’ or ‘Why did this person feel this upset by what I said? Was there something that has happened before to them similar to this to trigger this reaction?’ We are seeking to find the trigger of the pain and heal the trigger. Seek to heal childhood traumas.
Learning to harness the personal power of not taking things personally greatly improves our lives, the people’s lives around us, and our well-being.
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