What to Do When You Take Things too Personally
We often experience a deep shift in feelings and thoughts, and it vigorously affects the way of being in this world. As human creatures, whether intentionally or not, we affect each other. Most of the time, we are way harder on ourselves than others are on us. Yet, if we learn how to stop taking things personally, we’ll find a way to bring tenderness to our sensitive spots.
It’s hard to not be affected by criticism and judgment or by being dismissed and ignored. Of course, we need to live with compassion to ourselves and to others. But, how to avoid having the whole world on your shoulders?
We are such imaginative creatures – we can get stressed out by simply picturing what we did wrong. We often feel responsible for all the negativity that we come across in life. So, get clarification before you come up with conclusions.
Try to navigate your communication based on empathy and self-expression: “ I have noticed…” (observation), “I feel…” (feelings), “I’d like/I need…” (need), “Could you/would you please…” (request). It takes courage to be candid, but convince yourself that you are capable of doing it.
Forget the past
Some of us are more sensitive than others. Any sort of trauma or bad memories could amplify even little moments in the present. Let go of the past – old hurts can get activated easily by simple triggers. Stop rewinding the tape and wasting time on mulling things over and over. Heal your wounds, so people will less likely touch them.
Think about others
We don’t always know what another person is going through.
- They might have a bad day and the negative attitude has nothing to do with you.
- They might be going through tough times, they could be hurting and can’t control themselves.
- Have empathy – try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine how their behavior could be affected by that.
- Some people project their own darkness and pain onto others.
Surround yourself with nature
Especially, if you live in a concrete jungle, open your heart to the beauty of the natural world. Give yourself a break from loud city and toxic environment. What we focus on controls to some degree our sense of well-being. Get away once in a while to create a “Good Mojo” by resting, breathing fresh air and exercising. Go hiking or get closer to the ocean. Feel inspired by nature and it will bring back peace into your life.
Don’t let others define you
Even though we have no control over how people feel about us, we can be in charge of how we view ourselves. Take a breath and remain connected to your body before you react to a harsh comment or an action that upsets you.
Not everyone deserves your energy. Remember, it’s impossible to please everyone. Throughout your lifetime, there will always be people who disagree with you or dislike you. Say ‘no’ to things you don’t like or don’t want to do. Do not look for validation. Try to practice positive self-talk to boost your self-esteem:
- I value myself, my mind, my body, my emotions.
- I’m a human! It’s okay to make mistakes.
- I believe in myself and I value my qualities and talents.
- To be confident, I don’t have to be perfect.
As soon as anxious thoughts launch, use these strategies to prevent the situation from escalating:
- Place your hand on your heart and take 3-4 deep breaths while remembering when someone totally believed in you and accepted you.
- Apply pressure between your thumb and forefinger and hold for 30 seconds. Pressing on this bundle of nerves relaxes the ramped up nervous system.
- “Time-distancing” could help you to take things less personally: ask yourself how you’d feel about this a year from now. Then, move the timeline to a month, a week, a day, an hour. This puts everything in perspective.
- By being an “early responder” – you notice your thoughts, judgments, bodily signs – you can improve not only the self-esteem but your health as well. Taking things too personally comes with a physical response:
- Blood pressure rises
- The immune system becomes suppressed
- Stomach acid increases
- Arteries around heart become stiff
Find your Zen
You can learn a lot about yourself by observing. With constant reflection, you tame self-doubt and train your mind to take things less personally.
Practice meditation! However, to sit down once and think that you can stop it all on a dime is a failure and frustration right there. Commitment is the key. Even meditation ‘veterans’ still experience fluctuations of the mind. It’s hard to turn self-conscious thoughts that we are so accustomed to. The more we learn about ourselves, the easier it becomes to navigate obstacles we face. So ultimately, you’ll become friends with yourself and your emotions.
In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.
A spiral of dwelling on shame or embarrassment can put a dent on your whole well-being. Do not take things to heart – it brings suffering. It’s alright to be highly sensitive, but be less emotionally reactive. When you feel betwixt and between, trust your inner compass. It will point towards motivation. The challenge is to live with the feeling that you are in the right place at the right time. Keep reminding yourself – there’s always only now and you are enough.