The world is wide and full of billions of unique individuals. It makes sense, clearly, that it doesn’t revolve around you. But, sometimes, do you feel like it does?
Taking things to heart when they’re not about you is far from an uncommon behavior. Unfortunately, it’s not healthy and can damage your relationships, opportunities, and yourself.
Signs You’re Taking Things Personally
Here are 3 signs you’re taking things personally and how to stop it through 4 methods.
Everyone experiences negative emotions once in a while. That’s normal and valid. What isn’t normal is constantly feeling a wide range of negative emotions in response to the people around you. This is especially true if they’re overpowering and disproportionate. Here are some examples:
Seeing other people do well makes you feel uncomfortable and triggers strong feelings of insecurity. For example, seeing someone post a photo of themselves on social media might make you despise your own appearance.
Do you always feel guilty? This is likely because you’re internalizing a lot of things you take personally. Instead of lashing out, you might be turning those thoughts inwards. For example, you might blame yourself for things outside of your control or wish you could do more about things you don’t need to take responsibility for.
No matter what the situation, you refuse to have any positive thinking. You can’t help worrying about things that will go wrong, and you might even constantly focus on negative things over positive ones, even when there is more good than bad to be found in a situation.
You often find yourself getting the wrong message out of someone’s words because you were too sensitive to hear their point. Sometimes, you might wonder if you intentionally misunderstand others.
2. You’re Always Trying To Prove Yourself
Do you feel like you’re always trying to prove yourself or gain the approval of people around you? It’s a very toxic quality that can harm you and push others away, and it’s a key sign that you take things too personally. Here’s how to tell if you’re doing this:
· You Can’t Handle Constructive Criticism
People who provide genuine, positive constructive criticism, it’s not a personal attack. It’s someone trying to help you learn and improve. But if constructive criticism makes you feel insulted, you’re taking it personally and feeling upset at the lack of approval from others.
· You Need Immediate Validation
Whenever you do something, you’re always thinking about the praise you could earn from it. Worse still, you always want that praise and appreciation instantly from the people around you.
· You’re A Social Perfectionist
You hate making blunders in public and desperately want others to think well of you. When something goes wrong, you might experience an exaggerated negative reaction because you fear your reputation is permanently damaged.
3. You Make Everything About You, Or Think Everything Is
It’s sort of impossible not to take things personally when your worldview is completely centered on yourself. Everything is somehow about you, whether good or bad, so you’re going to be affected by virtually everything. Here are some more specific signs that this applies to you:
· It Feels Like An Attack When Someone Dislikes What You Like
You know, logically, that every person is unique in preferences and tastes. But for some reason, whenever someone doesn’t feel positive about your passions and likes, you feel like it’s a personal attack on the core of your preferences. The same goes for opinions and beliefs.
· You Create Stories In Your Head
Your friend calls to cancel a lunch plan you had together, telling you they have a last-minute emergency at home. Instead of accepting the explanation for a very rare cancelation, you start making up stories. You wonder if your friend is angry at you and holding a grudge over something you said last month. You start thinking that they’re distancing themselves from you. By the time an hour is over, you’re fully convinced your friend hates you and is going to cut you off. It’s many logical leaps to get to an entirely unfounded conclusion! These imagined situations ruin your positive thinking and are not healthy ways to handle conflict.
· You Always Think About How Situations Affect You
It’s natural to have self-preservation, so it’s not unusual to consider how you’ll be affected by something severe or significant. But that’s not the kind of problem being referred to! Every single situation, no matter how distant, you find yourself thinking about the ways a butterfly effect could get to you.
For example, someone being hungry makes you think about how they might be easily annoyed in this state. So you worry they will lash out at you and steer clear of them for a while. It’s an exaggerated response to nothing!
How To Stop Taking Things Personally
If you constantly seek approval from the people around you, you’re going to take things personally. This can often come from low self-esteem; you disapprove of yourself, so you need it from others. Worse still, you’ll constantly lose positive thinking because it’s simply impossible to please everyone, and you’ll open yourself up to more attacks from others. Here are some things to think about in this vein:
- Not everyone is going to like you or accept you because everyone is different and varied in opinions
- It is impossible to control what others think of you; no matter how hard you try, people’s brains aren’t influenced by you
- Social conditioning makes many feel like they must “belong” with the crowd, but it’s far from necessary
- Accepting yourself means opening yourself up to more positive relationships with people who do like you for who you are
2. Stop Jumping To Conclusions
It’s easy to jump to conclusions when someone confronts you immediately. But don’t! A lot of times, someone’s actions and behaviors aren’t about you. They might not even really be directed at you. Most people are self-focused, and their actions may be a reflection of themselves. Let them explain before you start making reaches.
Human beings actually have the natural tendency to jump to conclusions, even when it would obviously be more positive for it to wait and see the truth. This means you’re fighting the programming of your brain, so don’t be too hard on yourself and slowly work on the process of unlearning these leaps. Here are some tips for doing so:
· Make Space
As the person on the receiving end of what seems like a hurtful interaction, you’re way too close to your emotions to think clearly right off the bat. So stop your thought process and pause, separating yourself from the emotions you feel. From a third-person perspective, are your emotions reasonable? When they don’t cloud your vision, do you still feel personally targeted?
The brain has many automatic, built-in defenses that cause it to react quickly to certain situations. Your past experiences have shaped the immediate impulses of your brain. Remember, you are in control of your mind, not the other way around. Force yourself to take a pause and push your own voice and logic forward, overriding the brain’s natural desire to leap to the first thing it grabs.
· Put Yourself In The Other Person’s Shoes
What message is this person attempting to say to you? Are they really the kind of person to mean to insult you? From what you know of them, could their heated behavior be the cause of a personal issue? What else have they dealt with today? Do they lack certain skills in communication? All of these questions allow you to consider things from their perspective, and you might find that they don’t mean to attack you personally, after all.
3. Don’t Feed The Trolls
Of course, there will be some people out there who genuinely mean harming you and want you to take things personally. How can you fight something like that? What you have to do is learn to recognize these kinds of people – and then stop engaging with them at all.
Start learning to stop obviously goading statements, often used in direct insults. When someone insults you, ignore them and move on. Those who “troll” are often seeking reactions, and when they don’t get one, they’ll stop. Besides, that means it’s not about you – it’s about their entertainment, boredom, and a bad personality. Here are some things to keep in mind:
· Don’t Sink
Hurtful, toxic people are cruel and disrespectful. There’s no need to sink to their level by shooting back petty insults. This can cause an endless spiral that’s very difficult to break out of! Don’t become a part of the problem.
· Don’t Drink Poison
Toxic people are always trying to feed you poison. But their poison is of a feeble kind – you can choose to let it not affect you. Don’t taste the bitterness of their words. They have picked them specifically to be as painful as possible, and they don’t deserve to be able to succeed in hurting you.
· Don’t Give Away Your Power
When you let these kinds of negative people get a rise out of you, you’re giving away your power to them. They don’t deserve that side of you! Reclaim your power by being the bigger person. Stay above them, and they will go away in their own time.
4. Clarify and Communicate
Not sure what someone’s intentions are? Well, ask! Once you’ve taken over your brain and prevented conclusion-jumping, please take a deep breath, and clarify with the person what they meant.
The fact is that miscommunications are incredibly common. Lots of people mean things differently than they come out. You can mishear, others can misspeak, and people can lash out and immediately realize they shouldn’t have. Just communicate! There’s a reason that talking honestly and directly is the key to harmonious relationships of all kinds, after all.
Most people in the world aren’t trying to put you down or be mean to you. A lot of them are at least a little self-focused, too. So the next time you catch a sign that you’re taking something personally, circumvent it and stop the thought process. The world is about more than just you, and you’re about more than just the people around you!