A new co-worker made a passive-aggressive comment about your work ethic. Your brother jokingly said your new business endeavor is going to be a big flop. A long-time friend got angry that you said, “no” to a social gathering she wanted you to go to.
All of these statements can be hurtful-if you let them get to you. But you don’t have to. Learning how to not take things personally is certainly a skill that can be refined over time. Today, we will learn some helpful ways to do just that.
Why We Take Things Personally
We, as humans, crave to be accepted and liked by our family, friends, and peers.
It’s built into our survival code. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, if we were not accepted and shunned from our group, we would be forced to survive on our own.
Chances of surviving were slim. Humans were stronger in groups–and this still holds true today in different aspects.
Another reason we take things personally can be due to an overall lack of self-esteem.
A product of the environment that we grew up in and surround ourselves around plays a big role over time on how we view ourselves. As well as our ability to not let things get to us.
15 Ways to Not Take Things Personally
1. Will it matter in 5 years?
This method is often used in intimate relationships, but can be applied to really anything!
Whether something happens at work, with your family, or your partner/spouse…ask yourself if whatever was said will matter in 5 years. If not? It’s probably not worth fussing over.
2. The comment usually isn’t ACTUALLY about you
When people make nasty comments, like a troll on the internet, it usually shows more about the attacker themselves than the victim.
We tend to dislike qualities in others that we dislike in ourselves. Other times, comments sprout from jealousy.
So, take the time to think about if this situation arose from YOU or if it’s something more personal with them.
3. Be confident in yourself and your abilities
Ever notice when you are slacking in life, you find it easier to talk down to yourself?
If you try your best and instill confidence in everything you do, it will be hard to let other people get in your way.
4. Sometimes you just have to let things go
Some people are nasty and bitter no matter what you do. That is on them to work through, not you.
So, you have to simply let it go.
5. Live such a full life that you can ignore it
Fill your life with meaningful tasks and interactions. Do things that truly bring you joy.
You will be so fulfilled and busy that you won’t even have time to think about what was said or done.
6. Why does this person’s comment make you uncomfortable?
Think about what was said or done. Why are you taking it personally? Is it really what they said? Or was what they said triggering something else for you?
7. You only have control over how YOU react to the situation
You cannot control what happens to you in life. You cannot control what people say to you. However, you CAN control how you react to those situations.
Be the bigger person and react in such a way that will bring you peace.
8. Are you just assuming?
Did the actions or words you took personally really mean anything? Were they very direct or just made an assumption? Because if you never ask, assume it’s always a no.
Ask the person for clarification on things. You may find out it wasn’t what you were thinking!
9. Learn to not give into the emotions that you are feeling
Emotions are initial reactions to a situation. They are not always accurate. It is tough to not give into our emotions–especially when they become extreme.
Learn to acknowledge and feel the emotions that are there, but do not give into them. Simply let them pass.
10. Put yourself in their shoes
Have a bit of empathy and think about why the person made a comment or action towards you.
Put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. Could you have been giving mixed or unclear signals?
11. Stop worrying what others think of you
Sometimes you can’t work through everything. Sometimes you simply need to trust in yourself and simply not care what others think.
This takes some time to build up, but all of the most successful and brilliant people in the world have faced the most criticism. From politicians to inventors to billionaires.
If they took things personally, who knows if they would be where they are today.
12. The world isn’t out to get you
If you live your life with the mindset that the world is out to get you, you will perceive everything as such.
Reframe your mindset and realize that not everyone is attacking you.
13. Cut out toxic people
Whether you have to move job departments, go through a break-up or lose a friend, cutting toxic people out of your life is HARD.
It is hard, but so rewarding in the long run for your overall mental health and wellbeing!
14. Take time to breathe and meditate through the situation
Going along the same lines of letting your feelings and emotions pass, meditating through the situation is a great way to work through everything.
You may find your initial reaction to the situation is much different from the outcome you get from thinking through it for awhile.
15. React when you are ready
No matter the situation, simply react on your own time. Whether that takes a few minutes, hours or days. Explain your feelings about the situation and your thoughts.
No matter how the other party reacts, it will still feel good getting your thoughts out on the table.
No matter what you do in life, you will always be met with some resistance. Sometimes that can be uncomfortable.
The more that you do, the more resistance you will get. It happens everywhere: relationships, family, work, school, etc.
You have to learn to not take every single thing personally because it will simply tear you apart as a human being.
Not everything is meant to be as we receive it, so be sure to think critically and use the tools above to aid your journey into not taking things personally.