Don’t take it personally

Posted on Posted in professional presence

10 pointers to acquiring the wisdom to help you keep it real – by Rose Murdock

When someone treats you poorly, it can be really difficult not to take it personally – you are, after all, a person. However, the kind of person you are is entirely up to you and so you need to be aware of the consequences of taking things personally.

Taking offence and getting upset when someone is nasty to you is a decision that can knock your self-confidence. The truth is, what others do and say is very seldom about you and almost certainly about them – a projection of how they’re feeling about themselves in that moment.

When that is not the case, you know it. If your manager tells you off for not doing a task well enough, you know whether the criticism is justified or not. Either admit your failing, learn from it and move on, or accept that your manager has got something else going on and is taking it out on you. The moment will pass and the adult response is to let it. (If the moment doesn’t pass you’ve got a bigger problem that has to be addressed in a different way!)

Don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote The Four Agreements (one of which is don’t take anything personally), says that when you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

Here are our top 10 tips on how not to take things personally.

  1. Decide whether you’re going to go through life as a victim or a victor. Victims are easily upset by the behaviour of others; victors take the high road and choose not to make everything outside of their control about themselves.
  2. Don’t be a drama queen. Leave that to others. So someone said something about you that you didn’t like. So? There are millions of other people in the world. Move along.
  3. Be big enough to admit that your version of the truth is just that – your version. If you have lessons to learn – and you do – the sooner you’re honest about it and start learning them, the better.
  4. If someone upsets you, confront them, don’t discuss it with other people. We all tend to look for friends who will help us believe our illusions about ourselves. There’s no growth in that. Finding and facing your truth is a step towards emotional maturity. No one said it would be easy.
  5. If ever there was a recipe for taking it personally, this is it: relying on one method to reach the person who will see your genius, such as a potential client or employer, an agent, editor or producer. Not everyone will see your genius and you don’t need everyone to, but you do need to cast your net wide will help you find the person who will. The lesson is not to put all your eggs in one basket.
  6. Really listen. Hear what people actually say to you, not just your rosy interpretation of it. Being a realist (no, not a cynic) really helps not to take things personally.
  7. Stay in touch with who you are. Not the public you, the real you! Ultimately, knowing your own truth is all that matters.
  8. Make sure that you get enough sleep every night and that you eat wisely and exercise your body. Being tired, being hungry, feeling physically sluggish – these will all amplify negative feelings which will make it harder to shrug off slights and see the world in a positive light.
  9. Always keep your biggest goal at the forefront of your mind. Being single-mindedly focused on the reason for your journey makes it easy to step over the tiny pebbles on your path.
  10. Remember these words to live by: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. This was said by Eleanor Roosevelt, a great social worker and activist and, incidentally, wife of 32nd US President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (from 1933-1945). She was a wise owl, way ahead of her time and more relevant today than ever. Follow the link and you’ll recognise almost all of her most famous quotes.
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