Learning how to not take things personally is something we can all benefit from. I mean, who doesn’t want to be more centered & resistant to all the meaningless criticism (constructive ones are good). Here we will look at the general attitude & behavior of your critics and ways to deal with them.

It’s not about you

Always remember the fact that 99% of the time how people behave is not about you. It’s about them. How they are behaving depends on a long list of underlying factors. And even if you are in that list, you probably rank at the very bottom.

I cannot stress enough how important this fact is for your social interactions. If you do not internalize that people’s behavior are not cause by you, you can never be truly free as far as your communication with others is concerned. If you let each and every little comment shake you up, it’s not healthy for your emotional health & self-confidence.

For example, if a cashier in your bank acts rudely, you feel bad. That’s normal. You are a human being and it is perfectly all right to feel bad if somebody misbehaves with you. BUT when you go home RAGING and think about that incident for hours… THAT is not normal.

This is a cue that you need to learn about not taking anything personally.

People have many underlying issues and agendas

By going with the cashier example above, it easy to re-live that incident in our head again & again, each time feeling increasingly worse. Along with your hatred towards that person, you might start to think about the REASONS for which he behaved in that way.

Now comes the really important part… Because you really do not have any more information about him, you put the entire blame on yourself. And these thoughts have a vicious cycle. Thoughts generally start from “maybe I said something bad” to “I always say something bad” to “I am not a good person” to “I deserved it!”

That kind of thinking is really detrimental for you. It hurts you on various levels – Your self-confidence, your self-worth, your emotional health, your physical health & your happiness.

Remind yourself time and time again that people have many underlying issues which are not apparent on the surface. If you could see what they are going through in their life, your hatred would turn into sympathy.

Maybe that cashier is having chronic back pain which is making him irritating & rude, or maybe he had a divorce yesterday afternoon and his family life is in ruins. There could be millions of reasons for his behavior which are not related to you at all.

99% of the time, it is one of these reasons, so stop taking things personally.

How can you be sure what is going on in other people’s head at any point of time. We make baseless conclusion based on tiny amount of information we have of the other person. For more information on underlying problems affecting people, check out this post.

Different realities--

You will be shocked to find out the amount of time people are focused on themselves. You might think people are looking at you, judging you but in reality people are caught up in their own little world. There is no subjective reality. Everybody is looking at this world their own way.

A quote I really love related to this topic (forgot who said it) – “when you are in your twenties, you think that everyone is thinking about you. When you are in your forties, you think that nobody is thinking about you. And when you reach your sixties, you realize that nobody was thinking about you at all.”

Sadly, that kind of wisdom and realization come at such a late point in life. But that’s where good self-help books & autobiographies can be so helpful. A person, who went through various hardships all his life, decides to put down all that knowledge in an easy to read book… That’s called a real opportunity. You can learn what he learned and use it whenever you face similar situations.

Reality is different for each one of us. Some people view the world as a nice place with endless opportunities. Others view it as a horrible place where everybody else is out to get them. What we see with our eyes does not get straight into our mind untouched. It gets through many ‘filters’ first.

What we see gets filtered through our beliefs, our world views, memories of our past experiences, our attitude, our physical state and even our current mood. These filters color the image which we see in our mind.

For example, somebody plucks a flower from a tree, what would you think? Would you get angry thinking what will happen if all people start doing that? Soon, there will be no flowers left in that tree. OR would you feel happy thinking that people do take time to admire little things in life, even in this fast moving world…?

See the difference? What an event means completely depend on the perception of the individual. Everyone has their own unique filters which shape up their life experiences.

The point here is to not take ownership of other people’s behavior. They have a different view of the world, its people and how things are. Don’t blame yourself. It’s not about you. You can do everything in your power to change their perception, but you will fail.

It took years of experience to get people’s perception up to this point. You cannot change it in an instant. Don’t even try. Instead, focus on changing your own perception by internalizing information like this.

Good or bad, depends on you--

The world is either good or bad, all depends on you. Whatever you believe will seem to be true. You cannot control other people & their perceptions. You can only control yourself. I suggest you deliberately try to find the good in everything.

Why?

Because the life is just too short to live in misery and blame everything. Ask anyone in his fifties or sixties about how fast they felt decades went by. The answer is always the same – “pretty fast!”

Never blame, complain and take things personally. It’s a fool’s errand. Instead, focus on the more important things in your life, things which you are grateful for. If somebody makes a sly comment on you or behaves rudely, brush it off. It’s not about you. Let them dwell in their negativity.

Almost always, it is better to forget and move on. When you realize that you can’t change other’s perception and don’t take things personally, it will seem natural to not pay any importance to it and remain positive.

How to deal with persistent problem--

Sometimes, you will find yourself in a situation where it is not possible to just forget and move on. What if one of your coworkers is rude OR you have a family member who is always making negative comments. You will have a contact with these people on daily basis.

So how do handle such situation?

First, in the light of above information, ask yourself – what else could this (behavior) mean?

This question will shift your focus to other possible meanings for an apparent bad behavior. You will start to see reasons for their behavior which have nothing to do with you.

Second, if the person is constantly demeaning you, SPEAK UP. Let them know how you feel. Lot of times people have no idea about how they are making you feel. Be clear. Almost always, they will change their behavior around you.

If they don’t, either minimize your interactions with that person or cut them out of your life completely. We already have enough problems. We certainly don’t need additional negativity in our life.

On an additional note, I would suggest you to work on building your self esteem. Negativity does not affect a high self esteem person emotionally. They know their self-worth and don’t identify themselves with other people’s comments. They have control over their emotions and know how to deal with people effectively.

So that’s it.

Just don’t read and forget what you have read here. Try to implement this information in your life. Even if it takes time, do it. It’s worth it. Your happiness is worth it. This is a beautiful and a blessed world we live in, and while the life lasts, to lose the enjoyment of it is a sin.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Vishal Pandey and I am founder of blog - http://selfactualization.co/

I was always quite fascinated by the concept of self-actualization and my blog is the result of accumulating information in this area for more than 13 years.
Over the years, I have read literally hundreds of books, listened to audio/video programs, attended seminars on ways to unlock full potential of a human being. I have collected different kinds of information & concepts and tested them for their effectiveness by directly applying them in my life, for more than a decade.

I found some principles to be quite effective, while others turned out to be mediocre at best. My passion is to share that knowledge with the world and make people's life better.