Learning to not take everything so personally.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

In life and love, we tend to bear the weight of other people’s behavior and often hold ourselves responsible for their actions. We take poor treatment as an indictment on our worth or an indication of something that we are doing wrong. Most of what people do reflects who they are. Yet, we look to ourselves for the contributing factors.

We say, maybe if I was more of this or less of that then this person wouldn’t behave this way. Maybe they’d be nicer to me, like me more or possibly even love me. We absolve the other party of blame for things not going as we’d hoped and take it all on ourselves.

If we have a few good dates with someone and then they stop answering or returning our phone calls, we wonder what we did to turn them off. If a person we’ve grown close to suddenly acts as though they want nothing to do with us, we ponder what we did to deserve it. Situations like this can challenge our mental fortitude and absolutely wreck our self-esteem. Because we allow ourselves to believe that if we were just better, somehow, they would be too.

The contemplating is natural. We need a reason. We need a “why” to properly process abrupt changes and what to us feels like an unnatural course of events.

The thing is, we never consider that another person’s behavior may have nothing to do with us at all. Perhaps they’re having a bad day or a rough week — suffering circumstances of which we are unaware. Perhaps they’re in a bad mood because of something that happened at work. Some of us internalize pain and don’t have the energy to talk to ANYONE when we’re going through it. Granted, we should be able to handle relationships like adults and tell someone when this is the case instead of leaving them speculating.

Still, most times, it’s really not about us.

Maybe these people exhibiting erratic, inconsistent, inconsiderate behavior are just insensitive jerks! Maybe they’re damaged and hurting from things that have been done to them in the past. Many don’t know themselves or what they want. To some, it’s all just a game. They treat people like conquests and derive pleasure from simply winning them over. There are too many other reasons for why people do what they do for us to blame ourselves.

In ‘The Four Agreements,’ one of the agreements that Don Miguel Ruiz, suggests we make with ourselves is to not take anything personally as it creates needless suffering. He goes on to stress that when people do things such as unfairly judge or label us, say things that are unflattering and untrue, or otherwise display unwarranted behavior, it’s really about them. But when we take it personally, we’re corroborating the assessment on some level.

Taking things personally can actually be considered a derivative of narcissism because we assume that everything people do is about us. Looking at it this way, I think renders it easier to make a concerted effort not to fall into such a trap.

We think that we have more influence over people than we actually do. If someone is genuinely interested in us, no small faux pas is going to make them do a complete 180-degree turn. However, it will if they were looking for a reason to cut things off anyway. Just the same, if someone is not genuinely interested in us, nothing that we do is going to change that. We can bend over backwards trying to be a great friend or partner and it won’t matter.

When it really is you, accept it. Be accountable. But don’t allow anyone to convince you it’s you, when it’s not. Let them carry the responsibility for the type of person that they choose to be and how they’ve chosen to treat you.

We have to stop allowing others to make us feel as though we are not all that we are.

Author of a critically-acclaimed book on women and dating. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1687069786

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