Taking something personally means we internalise the actions and words from another as part of our self, rather than as something that may really be about the other person. But why do some people take things so personally?
A few weeks ago I received a message from someone giving out about my newsletters and I felt criticised and judged by, let's call her Miss A, and I almost cried I was that upset. I couldn't help but take it personally.
I know not everyone is going to like what I do, but this really got to me.
I felt judged, and then I judged myself. I became angry at myself for allowing someone to have such power over me.
Nevertheless, would you believe this is actually me getting so much better at not taking things personally.
As Marie Forleo says "Sensitivity is a gift, not a draw back".
Over the years I have learned strategies that help. Below you’ll find three ways to stop taking things personally that work for me.
1. Question Your Belief
I know that a lot of people will say try not to take things personally. What people say about is a reflection of them, not you. And I get it but I have also (only recently) learned to question the beliefs that often lies beneath these differences.
I believe that if you don't have anything nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all. I was brought up this way. But it's clear that Miss. A believes in expressing herself - frustrations and all!
Miss. A's strength highlights my weakness and I have often wondered if that is why I felt so vulnerable to her critique. As most of you know I have a learning difficulty and I am still not 100% confident in my writing.
Could this explain why I took her criticisms so personally? Yes, absolutely.
The relationship between confidence and what other people do and say is unarguable. The more confident you are, the thicker your skin.
2. Stop Giving Your Power Away
We are often dependant on other people to fulfil our needs; happiness, security and belonging... even confidence and worthiness.
When we take things personally we are giving certain individuals more power over us than they deserve or should ever be allowed to have. I really don't want other peoples opinions or beliefs to define how I live my life. Do you?
3. Recognise the Spot Light Effect
The spot light effect is a very fascinating one and refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are. Miss. A probably hasn't thought about me, or my email since. And heres me writing a blog on the topic....
As children we are so dependant on others for almost everything but as adults we are swimming in a sea of choice, control and power.
The more you take things personally, the more power you give to other people.
When I think about how much power I gave to Miss. A... well, I get a little embarrassed. She is a stranger from the internet after all!
With a woman's self-esteem at the very heart of her capacity to implement and practice these strategies, I know it feels hard.
But please don't ever think that your sensitivity is a drawback, it is a gift! Building resilience in yourself can be done so use the strategies I have listed here and take one step at a time.
Sarah is a life coach and motivational speaker. As the co-founder of The Better Life Project and creator of L-Schoo, she’s the “go to” life coach for anyone feeling stuck in a rut, lacking in confidence or struggling with low self-esteem or body image. Sarah offers life coaching and mentoring services and works with clients in person in Dublin, Ireland and over Skype around the world.