How to Stop Taking Things Personally
Taking things personally is a sign of low self-esteem. When you take things personally, you might be sensitive to the words or actions of others or you interpret things in a negative way. Perhaps someone says something which you take as an insult or you assume a person doesn't like you if they walk past without saying hello. Taking things personally may cause you to feel inadequate, ashamed, or even angry at yourself or the other person. It's disempowering and can worsen your self-esteem. However, you can build your self-esteem when you stop taking things personally.
Why You Might Take Things Personally
When you take something personally it’s a reflection of your own insecurity. Deep inside, it may reinforce your negative thoughts about yourself. Remember that if you have a negative view of yourself, you have a distorted perception of reality. You might automatically interpret something in a negative way or treat it as a personal attack. Perhaps you feel that it exposes your mistakes or flaws of which you feel ashamed. This can be very problematic, especially if you base your worth on the approval from others or if you are a perfectionist. When you take something personally, the chances are you interpret it in a different way to what was intended.
The good news is that you stop taking things personally and build your self-esteem.
How to Stop Taking Things Personally
- Realise that other people's rudeness is not about you. When someone is rude it’s likely to be a reflection of their own issues. They might be having a bad day, going through a rough period, or it might just be their personality. It's important to know that rudeness is not okay and it's not your fault. You deserve to be treated with respect, however, people aren't always nice. While you can't control other people, you can stop taking things personally and instead be kind to yourself.
- Ask yourself what else the comment or behaviour might mean. For example, if someone doesn't smile or say hello, they might be shy, have something on their mind, or they didn't see you. If someone is critical, they may genuinely want to help you and it might not be intended as a personal attack.
- Take comments or criticism in a constructive way. If you are criticised, ask yourself if there’s any truth to it, and what you can learn. Take the lessons and let the rest go. Even if it wasn’t said in a nice way, you can still learn something. As well as learning from your own experience, you could learn from the other peoples' mistakes. See the positives in every experience.
- Take a different perspective. Ask yourself how an unbiased outsider would see the situation. Are you misinterpreting the reality and is it really as bad, or as negative, as you perceive it to be? Another perspective is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how they would see it.
- Realise that you can’t please everyone. No matter who you are or what you do, there will always be people who dislike or criticise you. You can't change other people and all you can do is be yourself.
- Let go of perfectionism. It’s okay to make mistakes and to have flaws, it’s part of being human. You won’t learn and grow if you don’t make mistakes.
- Know that you’re not defined by your mistakes or criticism. Your worth is who you are as a whole person despite of them.
- Realise that your self-worth depends on you. It does not depend on what others say about you.
- Get mental health help. Overcoming personal issues can be challenging and you don't have to do it alone. It's important to know that there is help available and it's okay to seek it.
It does require effort, persistence and time to stop taking things personally, especially when it's something you're used to doing. However, it's well worth the effort. You will find that your self-esteem and overall quality of life will improve when you stop taking things personally. You are worth it and you can do it.
Agathangelou, F. (2015, April 7). How to Stop Taking Things Personally, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2015/04/stop-taking-things-personally
Author: Fay Agathangelou
I hear that. There are unpleasant situations and people in our lives that we can't avoid. In my opinion, it's important to distinguish the difference between 1. not taking it personally, and 2. not reacting. If someone treats you in a way you interpret as abusive, reacting to that makes a lot of sense to me–this is self-advocacy. However, I find myself thinking about the difference between defending yourself, and attacking them. Do they need to co-exist? Perhaps, sometimes, yes. Perhaps other times, no. Life is complicated, I don't think there is a definitive answer. I think the most important thing is to be in control of your reaction. If you think about it later and regret attacking back, that might be an area to explore.
People usually won't ignore you the second time because the first time could have been a mistake, but they know they'll look bad if they ignore you when you're clearly talking to them.
I just read your comment, and i can identify with you in some ways. I, too, am 60 and have struggled with rejection my whole life. No, I'm not disabled nor alone. I have poured my life into my children and now they are married and gone, caught up in their own lives and I know the pain of of feeling lonely, left out and rejected. I just want to encourage you that having people in your life do not make the difference. In fact, it could make matters worse. It begins and ends with acceptance and loving yourself, and the grace of God to do so. Then loving your neighbor as yourself. The things in this article are truth, in spite of how we feel. Embrace your life and live it to the full. Spend yourself on something that fulfills you. Give your effort to something that reflects your inner beauty and know the satisfaction of making your corner of the world a better place. Lose yourself in a passion project. You may find love along the way, but let go of making that a goal. There is so much more to living than that. Learn to enjoy the company of yourself. These are the hard lessons I've learned through the rejection of those I've loved most. My life goes on, and it's up to me to live it. God bless you with grace, peace, and the knowledge that He has a plan for your life!
I am working daily to build my self esteem without the help of others.
Now to stop taking things personally, it's about them and not me.