8 Ways to Stop Taking things Personally

By Meladi Brewer / February 5, 2021
8 ways to stop taking things personally

In order to understand the 8 ways to stop taking things personally, it is important to understand everyone has a soft spot where one niche can open up a fresh wound when criticized. Criticism is an inevitable part of life, and hearing reasonable negative feedback without overreacting is a life skill. If we can hear fair criticism of our actions without taking it personally, not only do we escape feeling hurt or shamed, we also keep criticism from escalating. 

So, how can we take things less personally, both to benefit ourselves and others? How can we toughen up without becoming hard-hearted? 

These 8 ways to stop taking things personally will talk about the way we perceive criticism and help evaluate the contexts in order to help one better understand comments. By understanding comments and the difference between negative feedback and helpful criticism, individuals are able improve the quality of their life. 

Imagine you invite a friend to dinner and they reply with “sorry, I have to work”, but later on in the day, you see a social media post from the friend out to dinner the same night with other friends. Or imagine you have worked really hard on a project, and you feel really proud of the end result but instead of praise, you receive criticism. Afterward, you go home to wind down and share the terrible experience, and in the middle of your story, the person gets up to turn on the television. Would you take any of these situations personally? Ask yourself why you take the situation and things personally.

Our egos tend to think others should take us into consideration. Criticism is not to be taken lightly by our egos as it is fragile. Instead, our egos want to be right and acknowledged. When you are constantly fighting to be right all the time, it can be exhausting. When your ego is controlling your life, it is in a constant struggle with the rest of the world thus draining your energy. Refusing to take things personally makes life easier as no one has power over you. Your energy can go towards positive vibes instead of endlessly battling against everything driving you crazy. 

It is Not About Me

Whenever you do you put hard work into a task, the ego takes over and wants praise. If you are giving a presentation, it may be hurtful when someone is on their phone. It seems disrespectful and the thought generating the unsatisfied feelings and anger are stimulation by the thought of “Me, Myself, and I”. However, looking at it from the other person’s perspective can bring a whole new light on the situation and allow you to realize it is not about you. Ask yourself why the person is doing what they are doing and try to understand them. The point is, the number of reasons for someone else’s reaction to you is not your problem and should not be taken personally. 

The shift of one’s focus from “me” to “we” will help ensure others actions and responses are not taken personally. Trying to see the intention of the other one will create space for understanding instead of irritation. Others react by the ways of their needs instead of yours. The “it is not about me” is a strategy that provides a strong foothold into the direction of lessening the effects of others on you personally by allowing us to look at the other person’s intentions. A lot of discipline and training is required in order to train your brain to stop and think about the others intentions before negative assumptions are made because the reality of most scenarios of taking things personally is the mere fact the truth of intent is unknown. However, every coin has a flip side, and when this strategy – it’s not about me – does not work, our brains automatically think: it’s about me. 

Woman in White Shirt Holding Purple Flowers

Train yourself to not look in the mirror and believe everything you hear. Manifest your positive energy into your well-being instead of assuming others are talking negatively behind your back. You will always be the villain in someone else’s story, but if you know who you are and are confident in the actions you partake in, there is no reason to not believe it is not about you. Other’s actions pivot off their own needs and negative thoughts, so do not let someone else’s negativity dull your shine and mindset. Do not take it personally. 

We often question and take things personally when an insecurity of our own has been targeted or hit. This prevents the strategy – it is not about me – from working. We find ourselves questioning our own actions and habits and insecurely try and change who we are for others. If someone were to tell you, you are a pineapple, you would not take it personally because there is nothing inside of you that believes you are in fact a pineapple. Other’s words only hurt when you truly believe there is truth in what was said. When the moment a raw nerve is touched arises, it becomes a moment to give yourself empathy. Acknowledging why the feelings of hurt arise, accepting them, and admitting what you need in the moment, and speaking up for yourself allows healing in order to close the door so it cannot hurt you anymore. 

Opening up and explaining how you feel in the moment without pushing blame and being vulnerable, you will increase the chance of the other person to understand you and take your needs into account. In order to not take things personally, it is important to understand – it is not about me – others live selfishly for their needs. Look at the other person’s intention, and if it does not work – two it is about me. Give yourself the power to be empathetic and vulnerable in the situation. Speak up and explain how you feel when the other person did blank, but do not point fingers and associate blame. 

Question Your Beliefs

A lot of the times a person is not affected emotionally by what happens around them, but by their own interpretation of what happened. We, as humans, are not mind readers and cannot begin to guess what the other person or people were thinking when the event took place. Our interpretations are formed from our own beliefs. The lines of reasoning would lead one to feel bad and lash out. It is important to understand, your reasoning behind your action may not be the same as someone else’s. Everyone’s interpretation of what should or should not happen or be done stems from upbringings and life experiences. Everyone’s different beliefs are different, and in order to stop taking things personally, question yours and the intent in which you are utilizing them. 

Stop Worrying What Others Think of You

Approval from those you are interacting with is important to you if you take something someone says personally because of the following:

  • You have been conditioned since birth into thinking you have to belong and be accepted by others
  • The truth is, not everyone has to like and accept you
  • You cannot control what others think of you. 
    • You can follow all the “rules” and do everything by textbook, and how others respond to you is outside of your control. 
  • Accepting yourself, and acting how you feel you should, will attract people who will accept you for who you are. 

Consider the Source

Questions should arise anytime you take something personally. Getting to the bottom of the source of why the criticism cuts deep is important. Asking yourself if the critique is someone you respect, do they know you well, is it someone who likes to talk, or has the person had a genuine interaction with you before are a start to understanding the situation at large. Considering the source will help you decide whether to take their feedback to heart or with a grain of salt.

Question Your Own Perfectionism 

There is a line between hypersensitivity and perfectionism. Those who take things personally typically work hard to be blameless and excellent so no one can criticize them in an almost workaholic way. When they receive negative feedback, it feels like a blow to the stomach and a discredit to all of their hard work. If you are able to identify with this scenario, there are ways to rewire it into new ideas. 

Incorporate improvement at hearing criticism into perfectionism. Get better at receiving the feedback and aim higher when it comes to dealing with commentary. Turn your overachiever attitude from your work toward facing the haters and how you deal with them. Another improvement is to change your perfectionism. Dare to accept your flaws and slowly realize you are enough just as you are. It will take time, but simply acknowledging it can be powerful. Any critique bringing forth old hurt and pain cuts deep, but being aware of something you can take advantage of in order to take a step towards owning it and eventually healing. 

Take a Step Back From Limiting Thoughts

Our minds tend to race and our thoughts get the best of us; however, when it comes to other people, we need to stop trying to guess what they are thinking. We tend to hate when people put words in our mouth, so why would you want to put thoughts and intentions into someone else’s minds? This is where mindfulness comes in. Taking a step back from our minds and asking ourselves the objective reality is before judging others will help our brains process the situation in order to understand the contents of the situation. When we feel like the world is against us, it is our minds that create the reality. The world tends to be neutral toward the individual person, but our thoughts and beliefs about the world take effect on who we are making it difficult to take a step back. 

Our fragile egos tend to be a big problem, as it loves to strengthen itself through negativity and complaining. When the negativity of one’s ego is listened to it controls you and your behavior. The brain has a built in confirmation bias as a way to process an overloaded amount of information. Therefore, the brain tends to hold onto information confirming people are out to get you. Being consciously aware of your mind and the negative thought is a step to not letting your ego take control. Taking a step back, it is easier to become aware or the idea of not having to believe your own thoughts. 

Confidence

Ever heard the saying “confidence is key”? Your interpretation of events makes things worse than they are because your mind takes control. If your confidence was more in tack, you would be able to overlook what people say or do and know their actions say more about them than you. Confidently thinking positive thoughts instead of the negative ones will manifest a new outlook and confidence within. Fake it till you make it because when your confidence is low, it is easier to take everything personally. 

Believing you are confident is a key to building self-esteem for yourself. Getting to know who you are, your strengths and weaknesses allows you to put your life in a place of control. Being strong in who you are as a person allows yourself to discredit anything from being taken personally. Love yourself and no one can make you think otherwise, so take time to reflect on yourself. Check values, interests, temperament, your life mission and goals, and your strengths. 

Avoid Negative People

This concept can be tough when those who are harming you happen to be family. However, if you want to stop taking things personally, it is best to keep your distance from those who make you feel bad about yourself- ruining your confidence. If you do not feel like your best self around them whether they are actively hurting you or not, it is best to remove yourself from the situation. It is hard to believe in yourself and think positive thoughts if you are being knocked down and fed negativity. There are two simple questions to ask yourself when deciding who to be and who not to be around:

  1. Do they make you feel better after you spend time with them?
  2. Do you feel more optimistic and positive about life with them?

If the answer is yes, then you are in good standing. The takeaway is, if you hang out with toxic, negative people, you have a high risk of thinking the negative thoughts as well. Go out and enjoy every minute of your life with yourself. Take every minute to be your true self, as a happy person would because they do not care how others perceive them. Do not worry about others and what their perception is of you because you cannot control how others react. Set goals and pursue them with everything you have. If you fall down, get back up, and utilize it to grow and become a better version of yourself. Writing out individual steps toward reaching your goals is a helpful step in the process. Allowing yourself to complete them and crossing them off as you go will create more motivation and ultimately lead to a higher confidence level. 

Conclusion

Taking things personally takes a toll on your happiness and on your peace of mind. Live your best life by not taking things personally. Try to not only understand where others are coming from but also try not to judge them as well. The steps to not taking this personally is going to be a rocky journey, but the end reward is both freeing and uplifting. Allow yourself to accept your flaws and low moments because they will only make you stronger in the end. Love yourself and the process you go through in order to become a confident individual who has 10 ways to stop taking things personally. 

 

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Meladi Brewer

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