Hi my friends,
One of the biggest lessons that life seems to present to me, quite often, is the power of not taking things personally. I’ve found that as much as we put in the effort to heal and to shift perspectives, sometimes old habits and difficult thought patterns creep back in, especially during challenging times. It’s always been difficult for me to remember not to take the words, actions, and energy of other people personally. For whatever reason, it’s my nature to immediately internalize it and make it my own, which always leaves me feeling shaken, unclear, and disappointed.
I know that we all have experienced great difficulty over these past couple of years, of life feeling upside down, and of tensions running high, so it’s easy to internalize the state of the world.
It feels timely to remind us all that nothing, that anyone else says or does, is a reflection of who you are and your ability to be loved and respected. The actions of others says everything about them, and how you react and respond is what says everything about you.
I will admit that not taking things personally is definitely an easier said than done sort of deal, but I am here for you to help you, and hopefully walk you through some steps you can take to start to find this relief in your relationships with others and with yourself.
1. Cultivate awareness. I believe awareness is always the most important step towards any sort of growth or change; however, in this practice it’s the most paramount. Without awareness, the mind will always go into the habitual practice of taking the actions of others, personally. It’s just how it will work. But, in recognizing that we would like to change this behavior, and reminding ourselves regularly of this intention, we can start to make that positive shift, and ultimately begin to break the habit.
2. Remember that we are all living life through our own unique filter. This one was a big one for me in my own journey. So often I would assume that other people were seeing situations or experiences exactly as I was, which, of course, is never the case. We are all unique! With different paths, beliefs, views, and experiences. It’s likely that we will never see a situation or circumstance 100% the same as someone else, so just remember this when starting to take someone else’s opinions, actions, or views personally. Others have a perception of what’s happening and so do you.
3. Strengthen your discernment muscle. It is so beneficial to our own mental health and to our relationships to be able to discern what situations require action and attention and which ones simply do not. I’d like to think of this step as a “pick your battles” suggestion, because as human beings, we could take everything personally and go to battle about every single one of those things. And we would be fighting about it all until the end of time. This is a step in learning about yourself, what matters to you, and what you wish to go to bat for. So start to take notice of what things you can let go, and what things you need to stand up for.
4. Speak your truth when necessary. From our own discernment, we can determine if a situation requires further action. Grounded in your own sense of self and confidence, you can speak up and speak out if a circumstance truly requires a conversation. Know that just because you’re not taking something personally, you can still speak up about something if it doesn’t feel aligned or appropriate for you.
5. Forgive, release, move forward. Usually when I’ve taken something too much to heart I hold a feeling of resentment or anger towards that person. For example if a friend cancels dinner plans abruptly, I may immediately take it personally thinking maybe I did something wrong for her to cancel, or maybe I might think, “Wow! That’s rude for her to cancel last minute.” When in reality maybe she was just having a really bad day, and needed space. The point here is that the mind immediately begins writing stories about what’s happening and we have absolutely no idea. It’s important to recognize this so that you can forgive and release those attachments to a situation that never had anything to do with you in the first place.
I hope these simple, powerful, and not always easy steps are helpful for you in your journey to not taking the actions of others personally!
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at email@example.com