Thursday, March 17, 2011

Want to make your "Me" happy? Stop taking things personally

The kids and I were having lunch today when I announced to them that from tomorrow until Sunday, Daddy will be taking care of them because I'm taking a 3-day workshop. As soon as I told them the news, the kids broke out in cheers and applause. "Yay! Daddy's going to take care of us!" they said, followed by Logan's comment of "It's not that we don't like you Mom, but we love Daddy a little more."

Years ago, this type of comment would have crushed me. I mean, after all I've done for these kids, you'd think I'd have the upper-hand in the love department, right? Not so! I have realized that I take things way too personally and sometimes without any reason. It's my interpretation of the events, not the events themselves that are causing me grief.

Take my kids for example, when they state that they like their daddy more, I know why they feel that way. Daddy's fun. Daddy isn't home all the time, so when he is, his presence is exotic. It's not that they don't appreciate me being around, but I'm around so much, I've become part of the furniture. I've come to terms with this and I now know that when my kids say they like Daddy more, it doesn't mean I'm not important to them. It's a different kind of love and I no longer take it personally.

How often do you take things personally? I think people who take things personally are people who are extremely kind and sensitive and try their best to always do the right please others or to prove to themselves that they are worthy. Taking things personally can be a sign of great vulnerability and lack of confidence, but you know what, there is no shame in that. What you have to realize is that most often, the people who intimidate us or who we're most worried about offending for fear they won't love us or appreciate us, actually don't necessarily think about us at all. And that's the key thing here. As my very good friend Julie once told me, "What makes you think you're so important that people will actually take some of their precious time to think about you at all?" This was one of the best statement I had ever heard because the reality is that I'm not so important to these people's lives that they would actually think about me, or what I had done that much. Most of the time, their reaction is based on something that's happening in their lives and has nothing to do with you at all. I would actually bet, that in most cases where we take things personally, it's never really about Me at all, but simply about them. Our ego has a hard time accepting that one!

The problem is that when we take things personally, we're only hurting ourselves. Self-doubt, anxiety, anger, sadness, betrayal, hurt, are painful emotions that get triggered when we take things personally, and the culprit in all this? Not the person's message or words, but our own (false) interpretation of those words. Even if those words are true, we still have a choice: either we take them personally and give the words the power to hurt and hammer us, or we choose to stand up for ourselves and ignore the words that were spoken. So what will you choose for your "Me"?

I'd like you to choose to stand up for yourself and try to no longer take anything personally. Your happiness depends on it. If you're having a hard time not taking things personally, here are a few things you can do:

1. Make sure you truly understand the message: I often find that a lot of hurt is caused by miscommunication and misunderstanding of the situation. Clarifying what was said so you really understand the cause of the criticism or comment will sometimes help you realize that it has actually nothing to do with you.

2. If you get the message by e-mail, text or other electronic devices (Facebook), ignore it until you can speak to the person face to face. I've heard many stories of people being taken aback by e-mails they received when it turns out that the author of the e-mail was in a hurry and didn't pay attention to the way the e-mail was written. Always clarify in person or over the phone.

3. Sit with it. If you are taking things personally, before you do anything, take some time to analyze your reaction. Ask yourself: "Is it my perception?" "What makes me think this is something I should take personally?" "Am I right?" and most importantly, put yourself in the other person's shoes and see if this is about their life situation, and not at all about you.

4. Remind yourself that you can choose to focus on this and make yourself miserable, or you can choose to let it go. It's hard to let it go, because deep down, we really want to know if it was about us. We want to know if we did something wrong but we're really hoping we didn't and that the person actually thinks we're great and wonderful. By choosing to let it go, you are demonstrating to yourself that you are worthy and wonderful and you don't need anyone's validation to prove it.

Finally remember that there are times in your life when you are more sensitive because you're stressed, tired, anxious, etc...When you're vulnerable, you're more likely to take things personally when there is no reason to. So be aware of how you are feeling, and if you think that your "Me" is not feeling great, then give yourself permission to nurture yourself back to feeling good before you address the situation again.

It's hard not to take things personally, but it's really important to try your best not to. It's the best thing you can do for your "Me".

What have you done for your "Me" today?


  1. This new post is so me at present time. And thanks i'm not alone to feel this way ! Your mind is wonderfull and i can't wait to see you again and share those things we women need to talk about and only you can understand !

  2. This is a great and thorough piece of writing, Em. So true that when we are run down or tired or stressed or pre-menstrual that we really are far more sensitive to others comments then we normally would be. And we do make a A LOT of assumptions because we have such imaginative and creative brains. We can spin a story about a comment and be reduced to tears. I see you evolving right before my eyes through your blog. Blooming is tricky business and you are thriving!