Taking things personally is an act of obscurity-an act that I, personally take part in full-heartedly every once in a while. We get upset by the way someone spoke to us, what they said or feel personally afflicted by the tone of someone’s voice- the angle of their eyes.
It’s hard to believe that what other people think or say will never have anything to do with us. But this excellent truth is real. We take things personally because we want other people’s behaviour to say something about who we are. But it can’t.
Take the scenario of Richard and Lucy. Richard treats woman badly because that is how he was brought up, his father didn’t respect his mother and his poor behavior became ingrained.
Lucy and Richard begin to date. Once all the fan fair dies down Lucy can’t understand why Richard is so cold and nasty.
The speech blurb in Lucy’s mind will look something like this, “Richard treats me like sh*t because I’m not very … I should be more … so that he will like me”. But take that dot dot dot and fill it in with any two words you can think of- because this is what we do, we fill in the blank spaces with our wounds.
The reason Richard doesn’t treat Lucy well is his own sh*t it has zero to do with Lucy beside the fact that she allows it. “She is looking at me like that because she thinks I am a …” Why not try answer this questions with, “who cares”.
As a culture, we are taught to take things personally. It is a tough behaviour to break out of but it’s imperative. Next time you begin the sentence, “She spoke to me like that because…?” Because that is the way she is. Those blanks are nothing to do with you nor will they ever be. People’s actions, values and judgments are their own, essentially we have no control over them and no action is to do with us- Ever.
We are anally sensitive to how other people especially our loved ones respond to us. But if we made the choice not to take it personally it may free us to just be who we are. Don Miguel Riz’s wrote about it over ten years ago in his book, The Four Agreements, a worthy read. His second agreement is- never take anything personally- ever! Simple but essential.
Never take anything personally.
Next time you think it’s personal rather think, what is the point of me taking this personally? How can it be personal if this person doesn’t really know me? If they do know you, what do their value judgments have to do with you?
When you take other people’s behaviour personally it only serves to make you feel worse about yourself and what is the point of that?
Use the story you tell yourself to tell you more about your own personal wound and what you fear.