How to stop taking everything so personally - Take your power back today
"You'll never reach your destination if you stop to throw rocks at every dog that barks." - Winston Churchill.
Does it ever feel like everywhere we look these days, there's someone demanding an apology, clapping back, launching the offensive, getting offended when someone ELSE is criticized, or taking things personally?
Does it ever feel like these days many people are ALSO unfiltered and unhinged that they don't really care about how they act, who they upset, or who they hurt? Especially in the age of social media, trolls are everywhere, celebrities have opinions, etc.
Stay with me..
I want to start out by saying up front that this is a totally normal response when we feel offended and it's HARD to not let it get to you. It's HARD to not take something someone says personally and get hurt or offended and yet there are ways we can better manage our emotions to keep our power.
But I want to challenge that assumption a bit to ask you to consider if taking things personally is the helpful response that empowers you to feel good about yourself...
Why PAUSE FIRST before automatically taking something personally
Before I begin, let's start by saying I am by no means a Zen monk with iron skin who's totally fine with whatever anyone says. It's absolutely NOT the case that I have lived without feeling offended, getting triggered by someone's comment offline or online, some stranger being rude to m for no reason, etc. However, I want to share this part of my personal growth journey with you that has been both challenging and extremely rewarding one that made me WAY MORE in control as a person and of my emotions. It has allowed me to take my power back instead of being at the MERCY of how everyone else wants to act.
Let me tell you what happened a few weeks ago that made me realized how much I've actually grown as a person: (no pats on the back but it felt pretty good!)
As I have my own coaching company - Living Deliberately Today - of course my social media profiles are public now. This was a completely new experience for me in many ways as I had always protected myself online. A few days ago, I woke up and some guy had posted super insulting GIFS on some of my posts.
And you know what I did? I thought to myself: what an asshole! And I just blocked him. And deleted his GIFs.
Done. I solved the problem! I took down the GIFS.
.. And I went on with my day and decided to add in this part to the article I've been working on.
And you know what? that felt REALLY good! 😎😎😎😎😎😎
Why? Because it's something 5 years ago I would have handled completely differently. I think I probably would have defended myself, then ruminated about it the rest of the day being upset stewing that people can be so crappy and what did I do anyway?
What's behind us taking things personally?
When we take things personally, it's very often a sign that we're holding onto a negative belief that we're not good enough in some way. When we're happy with ourselves and solid in who we are then we don't care what anyone thinks.
"Your perception of me is a reflection of you; my reaction to you is an awareness of me," anonymous.
When we take things personally, it is often because something has struck a chord within us. We are receiving our own doubts and insecurities onto other people, and accepting what we don’t like about ourselves or what we doubt in ourselves.
For example, if someone feels inadequate because they are the only person in the room without a doctorate degree, they may judge themselves harshly and expect others to judge them for it as well.
This kind of self-doubt can be damaging and lead to feelings of worthlessness and insecurity. But it's something we can change by working on it through self love, acceptance, and managing our emotional health to be more emotionally resilient to feel better about ourselves.
Then what happens? Someone might make an unintended comment and we automatically perceive it as a put down or an attack and get upset when it might have only been a misunderstanding. We personalized it because we were already sensitive about it.
It is important to recognize when this is happening so that we can work on addressing our own issues rather than expecting others to do it for us. Taking responsibility for our own feelings and recognizing that not everything is personal or against us can help us move past these negative thoughts and focus on building up our own self-confidence instead. Remember that our reaction is a reflection of how we things of ourselves and how we show up in the world.
Rather than assuming that people who don't acknowledge us, aren't friendly, or maybe rude or have something against us, consider other possibilities. Remember that the way someone acts is about what THEY Are going through and many times has absoluteluy nothing to do with you. Maybe they are having a bad day, maybe they lost a friend that day, maybe they're stressed about money. Sure, we should not take things out on other people when we're in a bad mood, but it doesn't mean people will always act the way we would like.
Questioning your negative beliefs can help put things into perspective and allow us to move forward without feeling hurt or resentful.
"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission," Eleanor Roosevelt
Handling Criticism and Feedback
Ok so let's be honest here. Taking criticism can be difficult, especially when it feels like it's coming from someone we care about. It's natural to want to be respected and valued by our peers, so when we receive criticism, it can sting and cause emotional pain. Recent research has shown that criticism affects everyone in a negative way, regardless of the person's emotional state at the time.
In order to not take things personally, it is important to remember that criticism is often not personal but rather a reflection of the other person’s opinion or feelings. It is also helpful to practice self-compassion and remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect.
Most importantly. ask yourself if it's feedback or criticism? Feedback allows us to reflect and grow, while criticism is meant to try to make us feel bad. Still, ask yourself how you want to feel and try to focus on what you can learn from the situation instead of dwelling on any hurt feelings you may have. Finally, if possible, talk with the person who gave you the criticism in order to gain more insight into their perspective and work towards finding a resolution together.
Sidenote: Please understand this does NOT MEAN that when other people TREAT US BADLY that it is our responsability to not get affected. Absolutely not. This is something manipulators and narcissists do and NOT what I am referring to by any means and someone telling you that your feelings are your fault while treating you badly is another issue altogether. I am talking about every day situations where we might do obsessively overreact to things.
Taking things too personally can be a difficult habit to break, especially if it has been ingrained in us since childhood. When we give our power away, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and susceptible to the opinions of others. We must learn to take responsibility for our own feelings and emotions and not allow them to be dictated by someone else’s words or actions.
One way to stop taking things so personally is to recognize that you have control over your own reactions. You can choose how you respond in any given situation, and it is important to remember that no one else has the power to make you feel a certain way. It is also helpful to practice self-care and self-compassion. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, including yourself, and try not to take criticism too harshly. Lastly, focus on building healthy relationships with people who respect your boundaries and treat you with kindness.
Considerations on how to handle not getting offended online
When scrolling through the internet, it can be easy to take things personally and get offended. There are trolls everywhere just out there with the sole intention of upsetting someone to validate themselves. There's the old saying: misery loves company. And online they can get validation pretty quicly with the right crappy comment.
Whether it is a comment on a post, an article you read, or something someone said, our initial reaction can be to take offense and jump to conclusions and personalize what someone has written.
In order to not take things too personally online, it is important to remember that not everything is about us and that we cannot control how other people act and most of the time, it's about them.
It is also helpful to remember that other people’s opinions do not define us and that if someone says something offensive, it does not make it true. If possible, try to engage in a constructive dialogue with the person who said the offensive comment, in order to gain insight into their perspective and work towards finding resolution together.
Finally, unfortunately there are trolls online who feel crappy about themselves and just want to annoy other people and get a rise out of you. Block them and move on.
Considerations on how to deal with difficult people
It can be tough to handle difficult people, especially when they are trying to push your buttons. But it is important to remember that you don’t have to engage in any kind of negative behavior or accept any verbal abuse from someone else.
One way to handle difficult people is to remain calm and practice self-awareness. It can be helpful to take a step back from the situation and try to understand why the person is being so difficult. Is it out of fear, insecurity, or some other feeling? Remaining composed allows you to think more clearly about how best to interact with them.
Other times, maybe we need to remember that we DON'T need to wonder and think about WHY someone does something. Do we REALLY need to know or Understand?
When interacting with difficult people, it can be helpful to practice active listening and be open to their perspective. Ask questions and try to understand where they are coming from. It is also important to remember that you can’t control how someone else behaves, but you can choose how you respond. If necessary, walk away from the situation or remove yourself from it entirely.
Why is taking things personally a problem?
Taking things personally can be a difficult habit to break. It’s normal to care about what others think of us, but when it starts to hinder our ability to function in everyday life, it becomes a problem.
The causes of why we take things personally stem from a variety of factors. We might constantly tell ourselves we’re not good enough or that it’s always our fault. This type of negative self-talk can lead us to believe any negative comments made about us, no matter how untrue they may be. Additionally, childhood trauma can also play a role in why we take things so personally. If we experienced emotional abuse or neglect as children, this can lead us to expect criticism and rejection from others as adults.
It’s important to recognize the signs that you are taking things too personally and work on developing healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with criticism and rejection. Learning how to challenge your own negative thoughts and reframe them into something more positive is one way to start changing your mindset. Additionally, talking with a therapist or counselor can help you process any underlying issues that may be causing you to take things too seriously. With the right tools and support, you can learn how to stop taking things so personally.
Why We Should Learn to Take Our Power Back
When we react immediately, we are essentially giving away a part of our emotional selves immediately without stopping to consider the emotional consequences. When we look to others for validation and affirmation, every thing we perceive as criticism can lead to feelings of hurt and offense. When we become so invested in the opinions of others that when they don’t align with our own, it can be difficult to accept. This is especially true if the opinion is coming from someone we respect or admire. We may feel as though our beliefs have been challenged or that our self-worth has been diminished in some way.
The problem is that this bargain at the mercy of the universe and everyone else leaves us feeling vulnerable and exposed. When we allow ourselves to be easily offended by the opinions of others, we are giving away our power and allowing them to control how we feel about ourselves. This can lead to feelings of resentment, anger, and even depression if left unchecked. It’s important to remember that no one else has the right or authority to define who you are or what you believe in; only you have that power. Taking back your power means learning how to take things less personally and being more accepting of different perspectives without letting them affect your sense of self-worth.
Mastering the Art of Taking Your Power Back
Mastering the art of taking your power back is is NOT easy to do. It's hard. But it will turn you into an unstoppable person. As Vishen Lackhiani says: Unfuckwithable
We must learn to take responsibility for our own feelings and emotions and not allow them to be dictated by someone else’s words or actions.
Plus, wouldn't those who want to put you down love to know the power they have over you by being able to push all your buttons? If nothing else, why give them the satisfaction?
One way to stop taking things so personally is to recognize that we have control over our own reactions. We can choose how you respond in any given situation, and it is important to remember that no one else has the power to make you feel a certain way. It is also helpful to practice self-care and self-compassion. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, including yourself, and try not to take criticism too harshly.
Lastly, focus on building healthy relationships with people who respect your boundaries and treat you with kindness.
Here's a helpful process from Byron Katie:
Katie: The Work is a simple, very powerful process. It’s a way to identify and question the thoughts that are the cause of all the suffering in the world. First, you write down the judgments you are thinking about other people, and then you put these judgments, one by one, up against the four questions of The Work.
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
Closing thoughts on not taking things personally
Taking things too personally can be a difficult habit to break, but it is possible with dedication and practice. It's important to remember that no one else has the right or authority to define who you are or how you should feel about yourself. Taking back your power means learning how to take things less personally and being more accepting of different perspectives without letting them affect your sense of self-worth.
Using EFT Tapping to stop obsessing and re-calibrate
Practicing EFT Tapping can be an effective way to help you stop taking things so personally and stop obsessing over what someone said or did. It can be easy to get caught up in our heads and re-play things of how we would have said something, etc.
Let's be honest, it DOES upset us when someone is being crappy and it's HARD to let go of those feelings and NOT allow ourselves to also feel bad. This is why EFT tapping is such a powerful process in terms of re-framing our mindset and realizing that we CAN be in control of our feelings.
It’s important to recognize that your thoughts and feelings are not necessarily a reflection of reality, and that it’s okay to step back from a situation and view it objectively. It's ok to let it go and let them be the crappy person.
We only have power over ourselves - so why allow someone else to ruin your day?
Do you find yourself stuggling to manage your emotional health? Do you easily get stressed, overwhelmed, offended, fearful? Check out my transformational programs below to start making changes to your life today!
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
If you're interested in booking a free 15 minute discovery call for transformational life coaching, EFT Tapping or checking out my services page click here.
Header photo: engin akyurt
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