Don't Take it Personally!

June 06, 2011

A pretty flower is blossoming amidst thorns...


When I look at this picture I think of how some people can "blossom" in spite of hostile surroundings while others will deflate like a balloon at the slightest touch of a "thorn." the only difference between these two kinds of people is their self esteem.

Many of us are very quick to take things personally: a comment, a dirty look, a gesture, etc.
And whether these actions may or may not be directed at us, we allow them to affect the way we feel.

When somebody is mean to you (whether they mean it or not), you are in control of your reaction, in other words, the important thing is not what someone else says to you (or about you), but how you react to it! If you let a negative comment or a dirty look throw you off balance (make you doubt yourself, make you angry or upset) you are letting others control your feelings.

Not taking things personally is a real skill, but one that we can all master with a little work. It is truly worth working on it because it will bring you freedom and peace.

The key to mastering this skill, is to truly respect yourself, and realize that you are unique in your own way and that you are worthy even if you are different from others or do not adhere to the norm. Basically, it all comes down to self esteem.

The problem is, most of us carry long term insecurities (about our looks, talents, intelligence, knowledge, etc. ) and we tend to put too much importance on what others say or think of us, but little importance on what WE think of ourselves, and that is the problem.

Nobody is perfect, and that is OK, but only if we love ourselves and we believe in ourselves as we are, we can be free. Everybody has opinions and we can't prevent that, but it should not affect our own opinion of ourselves.

Thinking of ourselves highly is at the core of finding peace and balance, but beware, it has nothing to do with having a big ego or being pretentious (these are in fact characteristics of insecure people).

Some people are so insecure about themselves, that they take everything personally, they become defensive and get upset very easily. They truly believe that everything is a personal affront.

A dear friend of mine overheard a comment in her office, somebody was on the phone, complaining about a co-worker, my friend immediately assumed she was the coworker in question and became really upset. As the days passed, she became convinced that her co-worker did not like her, and little by little her days at the office became unbearable. She never dared to ask about what she heard.
It turns out that her co-worker was talking about someone else entirely.

Why did my friend jumped into conclusions? because of her deep insecurities, it was her own issue, it had nothing to do with the person talking on the phone.

When you let other people's actions determine your feelings, you are letting them control you, whether they want it or not, and that is not fair on you, nor on them.

Whereas, if you love yourself you can become immune to negative input, that is not to say you should not be able to accept constructive criticism, when it comes to you in a respectful way, there is nothing wrong with that and you can learn from it.

You can't always make everybody happy or please everyone!, just be yourself and do your best (respect and love others, starting with your own self). If somebody is mean to you, it is their choice, if you do not take it personally it is your choice too, and it will save you from further suffering.

When somebody is mean to me, I do not get angry at them, I don't get upset, I don't doubt myself but rather try to understand why they did it? Maybe they had a horrible day, or they are going through a lot in their lives and can't control their impulses... there can be many reasons! Now, If I did something to harm them, THAT is a different matter.

But when our actions come from love and respect to others, there is no reason for people to be mean to us, and if they are, it is their problem, not ours, so why would we let it affect us so much?. We must always try to understand where they come from and forgive them.

People who are insecure or have a low self esteem (even if they don't know it or don't show it), will tend to react strongly to negative input and will take everything personally, whether it is legitimate or not. So the first thing to work on, is our self esteem and our self love. Some of us need some help to find security and increase our self esteem, even professional help sometimes, and that is totally OK, it is worth it.

There is a phrase I love by Sean Stephenson: "Care about people, but not about what they think of you", and he really knows what he is talking about! if you don't know who Sean is, I encourage you to check out his website: he is an inspiring human being.

And to close this issue, here is a wonderful quote from one of my favorite books (that I mentioned last week): "The Four Agreements " by 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 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."

Have a wonderful week!


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