Don't Take Things Personally
A Useful Mantra for Overly Sensitive People
Personally I am an exceptionally sensitive and often an insecure individual. I am frequently hurt by other people who don't intend to or don't even realize that they have negatively impacted me. Likewise when I read or see things in the media and contemporary society I become strongly opinionated, typically in opposition, in my response. What I consistently fail to recognize is that not everything is directed toward me or done with me in mind. If someone doesn't respond to a text or fails to include me in an activity it most likely due to their own forgetfulness rather than anything I have said or done wrong. But my first inclination is to take it personally and find blame or fault in myself. Similarly comments made by famous individuals, designers' decisions, magazine articles, and news stories may be controversial however it is important to remember to not become too emotionally invested or take anything in the media personally. For example Jonathan Adler, an interior designer recently created and is selling a needle point pillow emblazoned with Kate Moss's infamous words- "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."
As a recovering anorexic I could take this very personally, get upset by it, maybe even blame this pillow for a setback or lapse. However, while the design of this pillow is ethically questionable in that it potentially promotes eating disordered behavior, I can step back and remember it's just a pillow, it's someone's words, this does not have anything to do with me unless I make it so by allowing it to affect me. What can I do? I can challenge this designer by boycotting his products...however, I probably won't because in general I find most of his designs exceptionally appealing, positively quirky, and very much my style. Even a part of me can accept this pillow, take it lightly, and just laugh about it. Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements (which I'll admit I haven't read although my mother frequently refers to it and suggests it to me) focuses on the concept of not taking anything personally and names it as his second agreement.
"Don't Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering."
- Miguel Ruiz
Ruiz is right on target in this quote about the origin of others' behaviors and the power of remaining unaffected or "immune." While I won't completely discount the fact that some things are personal- a fight with a friend, an attack on our character, a blatant insult- most things in life simply are not to be taken personally. If we let everything we see, hear, or experience impact us on a personal level we make ourselves vulnerable to constantly being hurt or upset. At the end of the day humans typically make themselves their main priority and behave in order to benefit themselves. Most people's actions and words are motivated by a desire to positively impact their life not negatively affect yours. It's easy to forget, especially as a sensitive or insecure person, that people aren't constantly out to get us or trying to hurt us. In actuality they're probably not even thinking about us because ultimately it's not all about us.
Advocate for yourself today and remember that others are simply doing the same,
Another great tid-bit to keep in mind when remembering not to take anything personally-
You may not be the center of the universe but you are the center of your universe so make yourself the utmost priority and live your life!
It's My Life, Bon Jovi