When something feels like an attack, it can be quite a challenge not to take it personally.
It happens all day, every day.
We all project our frustrations, feelings, challenges, or things we don’t like about ourselves outwardly. When we do that, we blame it on others. Thus, when someone is projecting their stuff onto us, it can be very hard not to take it personally because it can feel as though it is about us.
However, it is not about us. It never is. It only seems that way. It’s a trick of the ego to make it all about us. Don’t fall for the trap!
Recently, I was told a little story by someone who decided to place blame on my husband for something that was not his fault. My mind took this and internalized it as a personal assault
against him. I don’t do well with perceived attacks—that’s when my she-wolf comes out.
As the perceived threat to my husband’s name washed over me, it began to translate to anger (anger is secondary to pain or fear), and I went from zero to 10 in about two minutes—which is an improvement for me. I felt myself becoming pissed.
The throw down, swords out, guns blazing mad. My inner hood rat, gangsta, East Coast street kid made itself known, as I ushered a stream of swear words toward someone who, at that moment, was the focal point of this perceived wrong being inflicted upon my dear husband.
I was ready to go to war because this sh*t was personal!
Then I realized what was happening.
I was taking something. Personally, that had nothing to do with me. It didn’t even have to do with my husband, it just sure as hell felt like it.
Do you know how I know it didn’t have to do with us, even though it seemed like a personal attack?
Because it never does!
Nothing anyone else does ever have to do with us. It is always, 100 percent of the time, a direct reflection of where they are at any given moment.
So now that my ego has nothing to be offended or hurt by, I can see that the behavior being demonstrated is just a window into their current state of operation, pain, suffering, and inability to take responsibility for anything.
That gives the whole situation an entirely new perspective: compassion instead of outrage.
When we take things too personally, we make ourselves more vulnerable to hurt feelings, anger, frustration, and unhappiness. Taking things too personally is like placing a heavy load on our back and choosing to carry around other people’s sh*t. We set ourselves up to carry a bunch of crap that isn’t ours.
The worst part is that we all have those people in our lives who will, consciously or unconsciously, dump it all over us because they either have no idea they’re doing it or have no ability to take responsibility for where they’re at in life.
Either one deserves our compassion, despite the whispers of our ego telling us to be angry and offended by the perceived slight.
Whatever you do, don’t take it personally. Don’t make their pain your pain. Don’t make their darkness your darkness.
Help them if you can, by giving them your love, compassion, and understanding. Assist them to understand that love is their true nature, while fear is nothing but an illusion.
If that’s something you can’t do, make sure you don’t feed their pain by reacting in an unkind, unloving way, confusing the behavior of the person, for that would only create more suffering in their life and yours. As challenging as it may be, don’t feed into it.
When you find yourself sinking into the offense or experiencing hurt feelings, use these seven tips to stop taking things so personally:
- Ask yourself if this is true. What is right in this situation?
- Consider for a moment if what is occurring has anything to do with you at all. If it does, own your part of it. Or are you just the person who ended up being there at the wrong time? Put the feelings aside for a moment and think rationally and analytically.
- Ask yourself why you are hurt. Why are you allowing the situation to hurt you?
- Pause. Don’t jump to conclusions. What you’re assuming you know is more than likely clouded by emotion.
- If you find yourself stewing over what happened, bring your focus to something else. Read an actual book, help someone who needs it, hangs out with some animals (especially dogs), or does something to focus your attention elsewhere. Take your mind off the event until a later time.
- If needed, give yourself space. Go for a walk or workout, connect with nature or the water element, do a yoga flow, or call someone and see how they’re doing. These tasks boost self-esteem and confidence which will bring the perceived problem into a more realistic perspective.
- Repeat this mantra: “Not my circus, not my monkeys. That’s all about you, not me.” It usually hurts because we care what people think—which is a setup.
The Tao Te Ching offers this: “Care about people’s approval, and you will be their prisoner.”
The truth of the matter is this: Once we care about what others think of us and we chase after their approval and validation, we take everything they say and do personally. We become their prisoner and slave.
I say, “Fuck that!” Do not allow another person to put you in that position.
We can remind ourselves that what people think or say about us is none of our business. Their negativity has little or nothing to do with us, but rather everything to do with who they are and where they are.
Here are my favorite wise words about taking things personally:
“But it is not what I am saying that is hurting you; it is that you have wounds that I touch by what I have said. You are hurting yourself. There is no way I can take this personally.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their reality, their dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
“People tend to be generous when sharing their nonsense, fear, and ignorance. And while they seem quite eager to feed you their negativity, please remember that sometimes the diet we need to be on is a spiritual and emotional one. Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.” ~ Steve Maraboli
“There is an enormous amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. You become immune to black magicians, and no spell can affect you regardless of how strong it may be. The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally, you are immune. Someone can intentionally send emotional poison, and if you don’t take it personally, you will not eat it. When you don’t take the emotional poison, it becomes even worse in the sender, but not in you.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz
Respond with love, and you will never be sorry.