How to Stop Taking Things Personally
“You don’t need to take things personally”. I wish that someone had told me this - and WHY it was true - when I was growing up!
Before we go further into this important subject let me mention a few words to you from an author named Don Miguel Ruiz. In his book ‘The Four Agreements’ he says:
“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”.
What this MEANS is that it’s easy to feel hurt because someone rejected us, or “betrayed” us with their words or actions. But whilst this is a natural response, it’s not one that is aligned with the truth. The truth is that everyone has their own unique perception on life, everyone has their own dreams and desires, their own lessons to learn, adventures to explore and situations to ‘bodge up’. So when you come into contact with another person - in any form - that could be as intimate as a lover, or as temporary as buying a bus ticket - you open up the space between you where one person is thinking, saying and doing one thing according to their unique makeup (including past experiences, their present feelings, what has happened to them that day, what they are rejecting, what they are accepting and so on), and where the other person is thinking, saying and doing another thing - aligned with their own life experience.
So if you get on the bus and the bus driver is rude to you, try not to feel unsettled and go down the thought route of “he is so rude, how could he say that to me, what have I done to him?” but rather think “perhaps he has had a rubbish day, perhaps someone was rude to him and he is feeling upset - it has nothing to do with me” - and in this way - as you are not taking it personally it can pass on by you and not affect your mood or your day.
Likewise, let’s say a girl at university or work says something that is hurtful about you. Know that you have not done anything wrong - she is just responding to her own place in life - not to you. If she had it all figured out she would be being unconditionally kind and accepting - but 99.9% of people haven’t got to that place yet - and that’s ok - we are all just learning - we are works in progress. But still, when someone is not how we would like them to be - don’t worry about it - it’s not our problem. And you know what, as we’re talking truths here, it’s important to flip that back to ourselves as well - by taking things personally we are effectively saying that we don’t like the way the other person is and requesting for them to change. But we don’t really have that right either - everyone has to be free to live life in their own way. If we don’t like it we have to either ignore and accept it or remove ourselves from the situation - and only you can know what the smart choice is in any given situation.
When we grow up, the world is new to us and we are trying to work out how it works. Unless we happen to be born a particularly wise soul, or have the blessing of being taught about life wisdom, such as this, from our parents or peers, then it can be a long journey of experiencing pain when other say and do certain things, before we realise the truth. That what others think, say and do - is not about us - it’s about them.
So, what is the antidote to not taking things personally? It’s COMPASSION. Yes - compassion!!! When another does something that we would have previously allowed to wound us, don’t take it IN personally….send OUT compassion. Acceptance and compassion. The other person is where they are - no indication of anything on us - allow them to be - accept them for where they are - we are all works in progress. Send out your compassion and then carry on with whatever you were doing. What YOU think, say and do are the only elements that you need to concern yourself with.
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