Do You Tend To Take Things Personally?

by Dawn Billings, founder of RelaitonshipHelp.com

It's is more natural for some personalities to take things more personally than others. Why? Because some people are naturally more sensitive to the opinions of others. Some people are hurt and offended by every word, others either don't hear them, or they process and file them differently. When we take things personally we allow ourselves to believe that whatever the situation, it means something about us, and second we allow our feelings to get involved. Not that feelings can't provide us important information, they can, but they should never be at the base of our decisions, reactions and choices.


Below let's look at some ways that the more hardy and confident personalities think so that we can emulate them, and stop taking the little things personally.

1. Consider the source.

Would you be as likely to drink water from a mountain spring as from a mud puddle? I would hope not. Remember to always consider the source, the source matters especially when you are talking criticism. People with blue, purple and red personality color tendencies are more likely to consider the source before allowing criticism to upset them. They ask themselves, "Does the critique or accusation come from someone I respect and admire? How well does the person know me? Does their opinion matter to me?"


In short, realize that you need to consider criticism very differently depending on its source. If it comes from someone you trust, it is probably a good idea to listen. We all need for trusted sources to help show us our blind spots. But if it is shouted from a moving car, why would you give it a second thought? Consider the source, which will help you decide whether to listen or not give it any power of you whatsoever.

2. Remember, most of the time it is not about you. We all have our narcissistic moments where we want to believe all things are about us, but a lot of the time when we feel that we’re been judged or criticized by someone else, it is not even about us. So often someone is reacting to their own feelings that really have little to do with you. I'm not saying that each of us doesn't have our flaws, weaknesses, and insecurities, but more often than not, when people want to criticize or accuse us, they are being motivated by their own emotional context. People with green and yellow color personality tendencies are good at considering what they other person might be feeling. Are they angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, confused? A person's emotional context influences what they say and the tone of voice they use when they say it. Therefore, you may think that you picked up on some criticism from a co-worker, when the reality you were not the source of their frustration at all.


3. Ask yourself, “How affected are you by what other people think about you?”

Why is the approval of the person you’re interacting with important to you. People with yellow, green and orange color personality tendencies are more vulnerable to what other people think about them. They need to realize the following:

  • You can’t control what others think or how they behave. Even if you follow all of the “rules” and do everything “right”, how others respond to you is outside of your control. The only thing you can control is how you choose to react to a particular situation.

  • If you accept yourself, and act in the way that you think is right, you’ll attract people who accept you for who you are.

  • The truth is, not everyone has to like and accept you. (I know, people with strong orange and yellow personality color influences in their color blend are saying, "What did she say?" They want everyone to like them. So remember that only you can establish your rules that determine how you respond. No matter what others do or say, YOU need to respond in a way that makes you feel good about YOU.

4. Question your own perfectionism.

There is a straight line between hypersensitivity and perfectionism. People with a great deal of blue color personality influence often take things personally because they work hard to do things perfectly. When they get negative feedback, it feels like it blows away all they’ve worked so hard for. Or they think the person criticizing them is an idiot.


If this sounds familiar, you need to realize that perfect doesn't exist. Strive for excellence instead. Feedback is simply feedback. Some feedback is good and some feedback isn't and you are definitely smart enough to distinguish good from bad feedback. There are always going to be haters. But don't let their criticism effect what you think is the best thing for you to do.


If you were bullied in the past, you may be hypersensitive to comments that remind you of being thrown against your middle school locker. If you were teased about being a nerd or geek, that is because you probably are a smart person. Any critique that brings forth old hurts cuts extra deep, but just being aware that something is a hot button issue for you is the first step to owning it, and eventually healing it.

5. Understand What You Might Feel Entitled to.

Psychologist Albert Ellis–the father of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT),–argued that a person is not affected emotionally by what happens around them, instead they are affected by their interpretation of what happened. Our interpretations are formed by two things, our emotions and our beliefs. Yep, we are meaning making machines.

But many of our feelings and beliefs are triggered by a poison called entitlement. We get frustrated and upset because we believe we are entitled to a certain reaction or response that we didn't get. See the example below:

  • You smile and greet someone when you step into an elevator, if they are decent people, they will greet you back. If they don't, they are being disrespectful.

  • If they’re disrespectful, it’s because they either think that you are not worthy of respect, or they are creepy people.

  • Why would they think you are not worthy of respect? (This is where you can take a simple interaction personally and allow yourself to question your self-worth)

  • Or they are simply creepy people. (This is where you feel justified in Judging and condemning them, and you don't even know them.)

If I believe their lack of response means their is something lacking about me, I feel terrible. If I believe they are creepy people and I judge and condemn them, I still feel terrible. Entitlement will always leave you feeling terrible, but if you can put your entitled beliefs and attitudes aside, it allows you to think about things differently.

  • First: Realize that you might greet people when you walk into an elevator because you believe it’s polite to do so, but not everyone shares those same beliefs.

  • Second: If they don’t greet you back it most usually has nothing to do with you. It is about them. Any of the following could explain why they didn’t return your greeting: they didn’t hear you; they’re having a bad day; the are completely lost in thought, or they might simply think it’s best not to talk to strangers in elevators.

So if you find that you have taken an encounter or situation like this personally, stop first and examine what you might be feeling entitled to.

6. Confidence Lives in Your Center.

Confidence acts as a buffer between you and the comments and actions of other people. The more centered you stay, the more you chose to think, react and behave out of your centered personality color tendencies the more confident you will feel. Look at the following:

  • Low confidence comes from you being in your extreme color personality tendencies. In your personality extremes, you’re likely to bristle at any negative comment. Maybe because there’s a part of you that’s afraid that what they’re saying is true, and maybe because you have judged them as creepy and creepy people make you bristle.

  • If you are in your center, your confidence is stronger and more stable. When someone says something negative about you, or behaves in a way that you have deemed disrespectful, you have the emotional resources to discern if the negative thing they are saying or doing is really about you, or it is clearly about them and their state of mind. When in your center it is much easier to allow a negative comment to have not impact on you at all.

  • You allow your centered confidence and insight to discern between what is true and what is a snarky comment born out of someone else’s extreme personality tendencies.

7. Think: “NEXT - and Delete”.

Have you noticed how rude and hateful people can be on social media for example? There are people who hide behind their keyboards, and while in their extremes, decide to post ridiculous, hateful comments of criticism. Let's take comments on my blog posts for example. Although most of the comments I receive are positive, I will, on occasion, get comments similar to the following:

  • “This article is absurd. Whoever wrote this must be an idiot.”

  • “You’re obviously not a very educated person.”

Well since I am highly educated and certainly do not believe myself to be an idiot, I do not take these kind of comments seriously. Do I dwell on them? Do give them any power of how I think about myself? No. I like to think ,”NEXT”. Then I delete the comment, and move on to the next task on my to do list.

The next time someone says something negative about you out of the blue, one of your choices, and a choice I highly recommend is to just think: “Next - and Delete” them from having an impact on you.

8. Stop Giving Your Power Away.

When you let other people upset you, you’re allowing them to dictate how you feel. This is one of the dangers of listening when we are in our extremes, versus listening while we are in our centered color personality tendencies. When you hear any comment while you are in your extreme colored personality tendencies, you will react in a way that gives your power away. Here are some recommendations:

  • Calm yourself down by taking a few deep breaths. Deep breaths feed the body oxygen and allow you to begin to relax. In a more relaxed state, it is much easier to invite yourself to return to your center.

  • Commit to doing all you can to get back to your centered color personality tendencies so not to give anyone the power to make you unhappy, or question yourself unnecessarily.

  • If you feel yourself moving into your extremes, choose to take your power back by changing what your focus. Immediately think about anything you are grateful for. Feeling grateful always brings us back to center where we always make our best choices.

9. Don’t Drink the Poison.

In The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz, the second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.” Here’s a quote from the book:

“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up….”

Here are a few more insights from Don Ruiz:

  • Don’t take anything personally because by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing.”

  • Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid.” (Feeling entitled, or in their Extremes)

  • There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”

  • The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune.”

  • When you don’t take the emotional poison, it becomes even worse in the sender, but not in you.”

Conclusion

Taking things personally takes a toll on your happiness and on your peace of mind. Find a happy medium between being hypersensitive and caring deeply. Live your best, most overJOYed life by choosing not to take less important things personally.

Personality expert Dawn Billings is the author of 15 books and hundreds of articles. Dawn is the founder of RelationshipHelp.com, and author of the comprehensive ONLINE relationship program, Relationship Help At Home. Dawn is the Executive Director of the luxury RelationshipHelpResort.com in Arizona where she hosts couples therapy intensives to help strengthen and heal people who are struggling in their relationships.