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How to Not Take Things So Personally: 6 Helpful Habits




How to Not Take Things So Personally: 6 Helpful Habits

“No one can hurt me without my consent.”
Mahatma Gandhi

“Do what you feel in your heart is right, because you will be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

A common problem that can drag your self-esteem down or building up so much anger that steam comes out of your ears is taking things too personally.

And so you can try to grow a thicker skin and let criticism, negativity, or verbal attacks wash away from you.

But that is often easier said than done.

So in this week’s article I want to share six habits that really work for me – at least in most cases – and help me reduce the stress, anger, and pain in my life.

I hope they will be useful to you too.

1. Breathe.

Just focus on your breathing for a minute or two (or a few breaths if that’s all the time you have).

Concentrate only on the air going in and out of your nose. Nothing else.

This simple exercise will help you calm your body and mind a bit.

It helps you create some space between you and what just happened, making you less likely to have a knee-jerk reaction and, for example, lash out verbally at the other person.

Handling things this way makes it easier to respond to the situation in the way you may want deep down.

2. Provide clarification.

Don’t jump to conclusions based on what you may have misunderstood and be drawn into anger or pity for yourself.

Instead, if possible, ask questions to gain some clarity about what the other person meant.

And, if you can, explain how what he said makes you feel. We have different perspectives and ways of communicating and he may not realize, for example, that this seems a bit harsh or rude.

3. Realize that not everything is about you.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that any criticism or verbal attacks you receive are about you or something you’ve done.

But it could also simply be that the other person is having a bad day, week or year. Or about how they currently feel miserable at work or in their marriage.

And so they release some pent-up emotions and tensions in you who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Remind yourself of this when you find yourself in a situation where you are likely to take things personally.

4. Talk it out.

When something gets under your skin and you start to take it personally, you can get stuck in a negative spiral of declining self-esteem that only gets stronger and stronger.

Break out of there or prevent it by letting what happened come out. Talk about it with someone close to you and let your friend share her thoughts about what happened.

Maybe she knows something about how the person who verbally attacked you is going through a difficult time.

Or she can just listen, helping you sort things out yourself and put you in a more level-headed perspective about what happened.

5. Ask yourself: is there actually anything that could help me?

This can be difficult to ask yourself. And it doesn’t always have to lead somewhere.

But by asking you can sometimes make yourself stronger.

You can find one or more steps you can take to improve the criticism, whatever the criticism was about. You can move forward again and regain confidence in yourself and what you can do.

Instead of being stuck doing nothing and replaying what happened in your head over and over again.

This can be especially helpful if this is the fifth or tenth time you’ve heard the same thing from people. Then maybe there is something you would like to work on (even though it may not be fun to face).

6. Improve your self-esteem.

I found that if I have learned to improve my self-esteem and keep it stable things don’t get under my skin that often. I don’t take them so personally and keep a healthier perspective and distance from them.

And so they bounce back faster and don’t drag down my day or week.

A simple way to start improving your self-esteem today is to be kinder to the people in your own life.

You can:

  • Help them in some practical way.
  • Listen when they need a friend’s help to find a better perspective.
  • Give a sincere compliment.
  • Encouragement when most of their world may be discouraging.

The way you treat other people is how they will usually treat you in the long run.

And more importantly for your self-esteem, when you are kinder to others, you tend to think of and treat yourself more kindly.