That look the other mom gave you at the birthday party. Finding out about a friend’s accomplishment on social media, versus hearing about it firsthand. Your child not being invited on a playdate lately. Life is full of uncertainties and disappointments, but it is not always about us. In fact, when it comes to other people and they choices they make, it usually is not about us.
Yet, we often find ourselves internalizing someone else’s actions as a reflection of something we did or how they feel about us.
We take it personally. And worse, we assign negative meaning to it. I don’t come across men doing this often. But women are often assuming responsibility for or internalizing other people’s actions to mean they have done something “wrong.”
We do a lot of assuming, and to our own detriment. If we were not included, we must have done something “wrong.”
We will see someone else’s actions and assume, “this means they don’t love me as much. This means they are favoring her. That action must mean I am no longer important.”
In the workplace, we also take things personally when we don’t need to be doing this to ourselves.
We might think, “Oh the girls in the office don’t talk to me as much, it must be because (fill in the blank). I must not be good enough anymore.” At work, someone may assume if her idea was not accepted, it was because she is not well liked and that she is going to always be excluded moving forward.
How can we overcome not taking things personally?
At work, before we assume, ask! And ask tactfully, not leading with the assumption. “Can you help me understand why my idea was not accepted in the group submissions?” It likely is for a very objective reason, not because of us personally. We don’t know the facts and we make assumptions that are not good for us.
In our lives, When someone else does something – anything – stop and ask yourself:
Reasonably, am I the cause of this, did I do something to “trigger” this? And if you are far stretching for a “yes,” then the answer is likely NO.
Taking things personally is exhausting!
You must remember that someone else’s actions, unless directed at us, are not about us. It is about them, the other person, and what is going on with them. You must tell yourself, “This is not about me. I am not going to take their actions and draw a dotted line and make it about me, and worse, me not being good enough.”