Don’t Take Anything Personally

If you’re a human being who has interacted with other human beings, you probably have taken something someone said or did — whether it was intentionally hurtful or not, significant or not — personally.

If you’re highly sensitive, this probably happens on an hourly basis.

Taking things personally is one of the most prominent aspects of my high sensitivity.  I’m aware of a raise in someone’s eyebrow (What does that mean?!?)  and wonder what I said or did that the eye-brow raiser is surprised by.  If someone moves an inch away from me, it’s because they don’t want to catch my cooties.  I could go on and on.

But, ever so often I’m reminded that to take things personally is a mistake.  Like when I saw these drawings/comics/pieces of art (I don’t know what to call them) called “Something About Memories” :

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When looking at anything, most people (including you and me) see their own stories, their past.  Not how things really are.  How people really are.

This reminds me an episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno I watched years ago.  Leno was doing one of those “interview-people-on-the-street” segments he did regularly.  He showed a guy a photo of a child and asked this guy to tell him who this child grew up to be.  The guy immediately started to tell Leno who he thought the child became — with one look at the photo, this guy said the child in the photo grew up to be a pretty, popular, and successful girl.

The child in the photo was Jay Leno.

Everyone is making up stories about everyone else just like this guy did.  I know people don’t see who I really am.  They think I’m one way, when I’m the other way.  People project onto you the stories from their past and make judgments based on those stories. I project onto people stories from my past and make judgments based on those stories. Everyone does it and we’ll all probably continue to do it.  There’s probably some evolutionary reason for doing it.  The more people you interact with, the more shortcuts you have to take, the more projections you have to make.  What we don’t have to do is take any of it personally.  Those raised eyebrows have nothing to do with me.  Even if the person is responding to something I said or did, their reaction has nothing to do with me.

I need and I’m grateful for the reminders, especially creative and kooky ones.

So, remember when some cashier is nasty and unfriendly, it has nothing to do with you.  Your nose probably reminds her of someone in her past who treated her poorly and that is the reason for her nastiness.

OK, probably not, but whatever the reason, don’t make it about you.

MM

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5 thoughts on “Don’t Take Anything Personally

  1. I am highly sensitive, especially to criticism, which I hate to admit. That’s why when my book goes live, I don’t want to read what the critics say. It won’t help me in any way, I would listen to writers with experience though, but not mean people who just don’t like it. You can not like something about me and keep it to yourself if it’s not going to benefit me in any way. It’s hard enough to take critique, even positive critique from a loved one who I am close with.

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    1. I only feel this way towards people who are closest to me. But strangers have never bothered me because I know they do not know me.

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      1. Yeah I think that’s true! Although it has been a while since a stranger has said anything critically towards me, that I can remember. Wonder how I would respond now that it’s been a while and I’m older? I don’t know if I want to find out. LOL!

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    2. I feel the same way. I don’t think I’ll ever stop taking things so personally. I think as I get older the time I spend obsessing about it will hopefully decrease. I like this from an article written by Elaine Aron on criticism– “Advice from a spiritual teacher of mine was “Speak the truth, but speak it sweetly.” Let’s add, “Hear the truth, but hear it sweetly.”

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