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Don’t Take Anything Personally

Age and maturity are not necessarily synonymous with each other. I know that from my own responses to events in my life and more importantly, to the words and opinions that I receive. It’s easy to take the words and opinions of people at face value and get hurt or troubled by them.  I know that I have reacted with anger, defensiveness and sometimes with a lot of pain from internalizing what people have said to me in the not so distant past.

However, I’m beginning to finally grow up (better late than never!). One of the important lessons I’m beginning to take on board is not to take anything personally. So when someone expresses an opinion about me, or shoots down an idea of mine,  says something rude to me or has a view that’s totally opposed to mine,  I’m learning to stop taking it personally. I think this ties in well with the my constant theme of self-acceptance and learning to truly listen to my heart.

I realize that everyone has a different perspective of the same situation. If we remember that people are coming to a relationship or a conversation from their own experiences which might have nothing to do with us, we can keep our sanity.
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Don’t Take Anything Personally!

For me some of the great outcomes of not taking things personally are:

It’s easier to forgive people and move on – We realize people’s behaviour towards us often comes from their own insecurities and not necessarily directed at us – we just happened to be in the way, so to speak.

It’s easier to say ‘no’ to someone – Often people ask us for something which we have neither the time, the resources or the inclination to give. I’ve noticed that when you say ‘no’ to certain people, they find a way of trying to make you feel guilty about your response. When you don’t take things personally, you realize that what they make of your response and how they choose to see you is entirely up to them.

It’s easier to accept people as they are – You stop taking offence every time some seems to ignore you, or seems to be curt to you, or says ‘no’ to you, or just seems to be cross at you. You realize that everyone has their own journey to make and you give people more space to be themselves.

It’s easier to be at peace – I don’t have to keep fretting about everything people say. I don’t have to jump into Facebook discussions on politics or defend my views on things. I have my beliefs, I make my choices and what anyone thinks of them is really not my concern.

The story goes that when motion pictures first started, a group of cowboys rode into Montana to watch their first movie. Then came a scene in which a group of Indians were shown kidnapping a young pioneer woman and taking her back to their camp. A cowboy in the audience was so overcome that he stood up and started firing at the screen. The film stopped rolling, and when the lights came on, all the audience and that cowboy could see was a blank screen with bullet holes in it.  When you take things personally, you might be shooting at a blank screen thinking you’re rescuing someone!

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43 Comments

  1. Swapna Swapna October 29, 2013

    Lovely post and a beautiful thought Corinne! Of course it is difficult and of course it is easy to forget this lesson. But it is true nonetheless. Lesser we take things personally, the happier we will be. I think to follow this in our life, we first need to be loving and accepting of ourselves, then we won’t be so bothered about what others think or feel of us. πŸ™‚

  2. RED HANDED RED HANDED October 29, 2013

    That was one genius post. But for doing so you need the maturity, the prudence and the self confidence that not everyone has. I am trying to build that up you know. Thank you for this wonderful post!

  3. Gaori Agrawal Gaori Agrawal October 28, 2013

    Hi Corinne,
    It definitely takes a lot of maturity and practice to stop taking things personally! But if we do master this skill, it can save us from a lot of pain and emotional exhaustion.
    I try not to react immediately to what anyone has to say as this lets the initial emotions subside and helps me get a more objective view. This way I can learn from genuine criticism and ignore the rest!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Richa Singh Richa Singh October 27, 2013

    It is difficult to follow all this. I also experience the pain of feeling violated or opposed by my closest friend/family member. And after the altercation has subsided I tell myself all these things. But always after it has gotten over. I need a cue to remind myself before, to avoid the damage that is done..

  5. Ankita Ankita October 27, 2013

    Lovely post..I strongly dislike people who are overtly emotional and take everything to heart. There was a relative of mine who was hell bent on making me eat a particular dish. I managed with a few pieces when when she further insisted, I had to refuse politely. there she started her emotional drama! my gawd! I still avoid her on occasions, like other relatives πŸ˜›

    nice post!

  6. latha latha October 25, 2013

    That’s my leo friend’s most loved post. So true, Corinne. Can’t agree to you better. I am happy and proud to say that I have attained that stage sooner than I expected. Still a long way to go. Still very sensitive in some matters. But becoming wise with age, is definitely true. We gain that maturity with experiences for sure.

  7. Shefali Shefali October 24, 2013

    So rue Corinne! Not easy to follow but doesn’t make it any less true. It is easier to forget and just move on than it is to hold on to things. Loved this post. I know it came from the heart.

  8. G Angela G Angela October 23, 2013

    Learnt it hard way corinne, but sometimes can’t forget, thanks for reminding once again, it is so much lighter to walk free, without a great load in life …

  9. Galen Pearl Galen Pearl October 23, 2013

    I does seem to be easier with age, doesn’t it, to let things slide off. I can’t believe all the energy I have spent in my life being caught up in the stories I made up about why other people did what they did, stories I was often the center of. Now, just as you say, I know that I have very little to do with the choices others make. What a relief!

  10. Bindu Bindu October 22, 2013

    Loved the post, Corinne! Been trying to follow this on personal as well as professional front and can’t tell you how much it has helped me.
    I have even gone to the extent of ignoring some very ‘close’ members of the family to avoid the negative vibes that they used to bring in ahead of them. We may not be able to follow this always and with everyone all the time, but eventually, yes it is possible and how it changes your life!

  11. Jeevan Jacob John Jeevan Jacob John October 22, 2013

    Interesting read, Corinne.

    I do agree. It is important to not take things personally.

    I have been practicing this. For sometime, my philosophy has been to not care about my reputation – not care about what others think of me. It doesn’t matter what others think. What matters is what I do.

    (I am still debating with myself on the ideas, especially on caring what others think. There are times when that helps. Say, for instance, taking too many risks? People may discourage us from taking unwanted risks, and for the most part, that is good. It is hard to decide – when to care and when not to care about others’ opinions).

    One thing I do have a problem with is saying No. I want to help people, and I do realize that my resources are limited, but it is hard to say no (I am improving though).

    Anyways, thank you for sharing your ideas, Corinne. Hope you are having a good Monday πŸ™‚

  12. Jyothi Nair Jyothi Nair October 21, 2013

    I loved the first sentence of your post. It is not age but experiences that makes a person mature. I would like to believe that I follow this policy of not being hurt by what people say or do or for that matter don’t say or don’t do. But yes, it is not always easy to accept this. I just choose to ignore such things. Don’t we have much better things to do in life than give unwanted people undue importance? A lovely message indeed. Something that I needed to be reminded of today. I just got back from a large gathering of family members. You wouldn’t believe how many things I chose to “ignore”. πŸ˜€

  13. Leah Leah October 21, 2013

    Corinne, this is precisely what I learning (once again) and it still trips me up. I do okay for a while but then maybe someone I love and look up to says something mean or snappy to me…I immediately get defensive and then I withdraw. I take it very personally at first and then I slowly swim back to the surface for a deep breath of truth: that this has nothing to do with me at all. I’m slowly growing up too but it isn’t easy. I love Don Miguel Ruiz and his book, The Four Agreements, as it speaks of this and some other jewels of wisdom.
    Sending love!

  14. Karen D. Austin Karen D. Austin October 21, 2013

    Amen! I know that I need to do this. I read 4 Agreements when it first came out. But I keep falling into old habits. “I need to live this truth, not just recite it now and then. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando October 21, 2013

    A tremendous lesson we all need to learn; I know I have my moments when I’m tempted to take comments, etc., personally, but it is, as you said in this reflection, not a productive way to spend our time. We cannot control the reactions of others, we can only be responsible for ourselves.
    Blessings, Corinne!

  16. Proactive Indian Proactive Indian October 21, 2013

    I follow this almost all the time.
    What I (my conscience) think of myself matters much more than what anybody says or thinks about me.

  17. Suzy Suzy October 21, 2013

    It’s a philosophy I follow too, But every now and then I slip back and start to take things personally. We live and learn. Nice post and good topic.

  18. Sheethal Susan Jacob Sheethal Susan Jacob October 21, 2013

    Yeah…. I do try to follow this. But for me, forgiving and moving on is much easier than forgetting… And as said… saying No comes easier with not taking anything personally.

  19. Vishnu Vishnu October 21, 2013

    Nice to read about your growth journey, Corinne. I’m wondering when and how I stopped caring so much about what others thought or taking things personally. I think it probably came from my work in politics and law, where others feel it is appropriate or part of their job to make their points through insults and harsh ways. In order to get to the bottom of the case in law, it becomes necessary to avoid all the personal attacks and jabs. Also, having endured constant jabs and attacks, I became immune to the personal attacks. Once we stop giving power to those things which can hurt us, we have control over our own lives. We stop allowing others to have power over us when we refuse to be personally offended. In addition to all the four points you made, not taking things personally gives us peace of mind (as you mention) and doesn’t allow require us to be in a defensive mode (as you also mention)

    I’ve also noticed when people are personally hurtful, it’s because of some underlying insecurity or fear on their side.

  20. meenamenon meenamenon October 21, 2013

    This online world is such a great place for us to learn about not taking things personally – with soo many people around our ideas are bound to be shot down ! But learnng it in real world needs more practise.. cause in vitual who can see me making faces at them πŸ˜‰

  21. Lazy Pineapple Lazy Pineapple October 21, 2013

    I simply loved this post…it really has come at such a right time for me. Yes I too have lashed back at people and have gone on defensive when someone said something harsh to me. I am learning not to give instant reactions…it is an uphill task but it does work when you do not give the expected response and diffuse the situation. The other person does not have any ammunition left to hurt you.

  22. Rum Punch Drunk Rum Punch Drunk October 21, 2013

    What a brilliant and well written post. I totally agree with all that you have said and it couldn’t have come at a better moment. I use to get myself all concerned over what people use to say or do to me but not as much anymore. Some things are important but many other things can be water off a duck’s back. πŸ™‚

  23. Vidya Sury Vidya Sury October 21, 2013

    How we live and learn! As you said, better late than never. I’ve learned another huge lesson, besides the ones you’ve listed – that happiness is in our own hands; obviously we cannot control others’ actions, but we can certainly control our own response to it. And you know one of my favorite philosophies. “I don’t have time to worry about who doesn’t like me. I am too busy loving the people who love me”. :-). Not taking anything personally is the first thing we teach in sales training. πŸ™‚

    Beautiful post, Corinne.

  24. Deeps Deeps October 21, 2013

    Corinne, I cant tell you how much I loved what you wrote! I have been going through some major conflict of thoughts on people around me, their actions, my reactions, or whether to take them personally or just let go. Your post puts a lot of things in a better perspective for me.

    Thank you for writing this πŸ™‚

  25. Geeta Nair Geeta Nair October 21, 2013

    Hi Corrine ,

    Time teaches us a lot. As we grow older we start thinking in various directions and that is when we realize that we are unnecessarily wasting our time and health on trivial matters such as taking to heart someone’s comment or action. In this I must say I am indebted to my husband who has always been so mature. He is the one who taught me to forgive and forget and move on and to tell you the truth I’ve loved the feeling.

  26. Rekha Rekha October 21, 2013

    That was such a sweer message. It definitely helps everyone if we stop taking things personally. If only everyone realizes this, the world would be an even more beautiful place to be in. πŸ™‚

  27. Rachna Rachna October 21, 2013

    I am aware of the tips you have given and they make great sense. But, somehow, it is not so easy to practice them especially when it is in connection with someone close to you. No matter how much we try to put the things behind or rationalize, they hurt and sting for a while. But yes, there are certain people that I can do away, and I cut them off to reduce negativity from my own life. With acquaintances and people not so close, I am very understanding, patient and forgiving :). Nice post! Something that each one of us must come back to every once in a while.

  28. Sheela Sheela October 21, 2013

    This is the perfect way to lead a content life…the instance down below is apt and clearly relates with the thought…

  29. Delia Delia October 21, 2013

    I love this post! When you truly start to love and respect yourself for who you are, that’s when miracle happens.
    Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can belittle you without your consent” (or words to that effect).
    Everybody realizes this in their own time (and some do not, if they don’t make the effort) but it’s indeed so liberating when you do so.
    Thanks for the post, Corinne!

  30. Pixie Pixie October 21, 2013

    yep. I agree.. I’m trying to follow this.
    Just yesterday – I was insulted because I read a lot. I shrugged, laughed it off and came home to my books πŸ™‚
    I understand that we shouldn’t take things personally, but sometimes, its just so hard! :-/

  31. Jairam Mohan Jairam Mohan October 21, 2013

    And here I was thinking that I probably was the only stupid person in this world who practiced this particular habit. In fact, my wife is struggling with this one aspect quite a bit especially in a few specific and unavoidable relationships in her life, and she keeps asking me how I manage to stay cool despite whatever people talk or think about me, and now I have one more solid reason to give her.

    Awesome, inspiring, wonderful post Corinne, I thoroughly agree with it and enjoyed the post immensely.

  32. Swati Nitin Gupta Swati Nitin Gupta October 21, 2013

    Hi Corinne,

    Thank you for such an inspiring post on the above-mentioned topic. I guess I still need to do some more growing up before I can also become indifferent to what other people have to say about me or think about me. I have the habit of taking everything personally and that creates lots of complications for me.

  33. Kathy Kathy October 21, 2013

    This really struck a chord with me today as I have had my feelings hurt by someone I thought was my friend but lied to me. I took their deception seriously and it left me disillusioned. I take too much too heart when my website falls in standings. I feel sorry for myself and question whether I should continue on writing or if the time has come for me to finally hang it up and delete it. These are the feelings I am fighting today and I need to learn to not take it all so personally as you suggest. Maybe you are right that it is more everyone else, than all my fault. I needed to read this today. It made me think. Thank you Corinne. β™₯

  34. Laurel Regan Laurel Regan October 21, 2013

    This is something I really struggle with. I read “The Four Agreements” a few years ago, and remember struggling with this point then, too! I think I may need to revisit that book. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

  35. Menopausal Mother Menopausal Mother October 21, 2013

    Great thought-provoking post! I have noticed a LOT of these changes in myself as I’ve gotten older. I used to say yes to everything and apologize all the time for things that were not even my fault. Now that I am oder, I have learned to stand my ground and I also do not take things too personally. The biggest change is that I don’t take life too seriously anymore.

  36. Mary Stephenson Mary Stephenson October 20, 2013

    Hi Corinne

    We could all use a little more of this. I have been lately thinking too much about someone’s stupidity. I care about this person but I also realize that it is not my place to want to get totally involved. May be a word when the time is right, but I need to not let it consume me. Being right, even if we are, is not always about correcting it. Adults do have the freedom to make stupid mistakes and we just can’t take it personally.

    Mary

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 24, 2013

      Thanks for sharing, Mary. I’ve been in exactly the same place and it’s often hard to distance ourselves especially when we care a lot for someone. But like you said, we need to give people freedom.

  37. Kalpana Solsi Kalpana Solsi October 20, 2013

    Its difficult to forgive but I avoid taking the stress on my heart and conclude that people will not be mirror images of me to understand my thinking/views/attitudes.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 24, 2013

      That’s a good philosophy, Kalpana. Imagine how boring life would be if we all thought in the same way? πŸ™‚

  38. Darla Sue Dollman Darla Sue Dollman October 20, 2013

    Well said. Unfortunately I’m still learning this lesson. πŸ™‚

  39. Rainbow Hues Rainbow Hues October 20, 2013

    Brilliant!

    I would be lying if I tell you i follow this philosophy. As much as I forgive and move on, I simply can’t forget. I understand how people can be judgmental and try to belittle you but that’s beyond our control Its only us and our emotions/feelings towards ‘them’ that we can control.

    Thanks for this post!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues Post author | October 24, 2013

      I’m not sure when forgiving and forgetting got clubbed together, Kajal. I forgive, but I remember the lessons I learnt from my experiences – or at least I try to.

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