Do you often feel like you’re under a microscope when you’re around others? Maybe you’ve been told that you need to relax and stop being so overly sensitive. How can you know if you take things personally regardless of the situation?
People who are overly critical of themselves may have learned it from childhood. Maybe a parent or another adult said something disparaging or insensitive that stuck with you. In these formative years, you often internalize this verbal abuse as truth.
For example, you accidentally drop and break something, and a callous parent says, “You never do anything right.” If you internalize this abusive statement, it becomes part of your negative self-talk. You send this negative affirmation into the Universe, and it returns more negativity.
Ten Signs You Might Take Things Personally
Nobody is above second-guessing themselves when they face undue criticism. However, you learn to filter out toxic comments and realize that you’re not always the target. Here are ten signs to recognize if you are taking things personally.
1. You’re Obsessed with Other People’s Opinions
It’s only normal to want to make a good impression on family, friends, and strangers. An article published by the American Psychological Association discusses acceptance as a basic human need. Since people are social and need to belong, you can view a negative opinion as rejection.
Those who take things personally are forever second-guessing everything from body image to their points of view. Such an obsession can boost anxiety and lead to poor self-esteem. The only control other people have on you is what you allow.
2. If Criticism Overwhelms You, They You Might Take Things Personally
The key to dealing with criticism is to differentiate the type. Constructive criticism aims to give you a unique perspective for positive changes. These may come from well-meaning mentors or people in your circle.
Harsh criticism is often based on jealousy, negativity, or plain hatefulness. While constructive criticism still may sting, it can help you in the long run. If you take things personally, any type of criticism may feel like a direct attack.
3. You Often Feel Paranoid
Part of your need to be accepted includes the assurance that nobody is talking behind your back. You know that your friends and family support you and will defend you if necessary. Overly sensitive people have a challenging time trusting the loyalty of others.
If you see co-workers chatting in a corner at work, do you often assume they are talking about you? Do you find yourself over-analyzing comments and actions as possible criticisms? Such paranoia makes cooperation and comradery difficult for you at work.
It’s even more problematic for your social life or love interests. You might think others are singling you out as different and inferior. In a relationship, your constant doubts and sensitivity can push your partner away from you.
4. You Could Take Things Personally if You Always Question Motives
People who take things personally often can’t take any statements or actions at face value. They might be convinced that everyone has an ulterior motive for being in their circle. What others say may not be what they mean.
For example, your best friend might say, “That outfit looks stunning on you.” While you may offer a weak smile and brush off the compliment, you doubt they really feel what they’re saying. Are they implying that your clothes aren’t usually attractive?
The same worries accompany any generosity or favor others do for you. Did they offer to carpool your kids to school because you are a terrible parent? What’s their hidden agenda for being so nice to you and your family?
5. You Often Feel Guilty
Those who are hypersensitive are often people pleasers. You’ll usually go the extra mile to please others so they will accept you. Those rare times that you must say no make you ruminate and feel guilty for days.
To avoid such anxiety, you’ll be the first to volunteer and won’t decline requests, even if they’re inconvenient. You’ll often hide your emotions and opinions so that you don’t ruffle any feathers. Unfortunately, you’re only doing yourself a grave disservice.
You needn’t feel guilty by asserting yourself and showing others how you expect to be treated. If someone thinks you are their personal doormat, pull it out from under them without guilt. If you can’t, you may be taking things too personally.
Substance abuse can be your way of coping with unnecessary guilt. In the beginning, most people abuse alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or food to appease their anxiety. Soon, these crutches are controlling them and sabotaging their lives.
When you take things personally, you may quell your insecurities with addiction. Unfortunately, your problems are still there after the emotional high is over. Whether you’re addicted to a substance or activities like shopping or gaming, they can jeopardize your well-being and relationships.
6. You Feel Threatened With Disagreements
Everyone has their own opinion, regardless of their relationship. It’s all part of being individuals. However, those who take things personally feel threatened if another person challenges their viewpoints.
It’s not only acceptable to disagree with others, but it’s also healthy. According to an article published by Harvard Business Review, it promotes flexibility, listening skills, and cooperation. You can only realize these benefits when you can look beyond your insecurities.
7. You’re Quick to Anger
Anger is a complicated emotion because it usually masks fear and other negative feelings. Rather than to show others your vulnerability, it’s easier to be angry and defensive. Taking things personally means that you can consider the most innocent comments as an insult.
One of the tell-tale statements is, “What did you mean by that?” You’re instantly angered before you even understand what the other person is saying. Angry people aren’t effective listeners and usually feel insulted.
These feelings constantly keep you on guard and distrusting others. After a while, your anger may morph into bitterness. If your rage keeps people at bay, it gives you a false sense of security.
8. You Might Take Things Personally If You Feel Misunderstood Often
Those who are high-strung often feel like they are an anomaly that nobody understands. You may feel disconnected from family, friends, and coworkers as if they look down on you. Instead of discussing your feelings, opinions, or ideas, you brood in silence.
It’s normal to think outside of the box and occasionally wonder if others “get” you. However, it becomes a significant issue if this self-doubt festers into isolation, anxiety, and depression. You may not realize that it’s okay to be different, and others don’t always need to understand you.
9. People Are Reserved Around You
Almost everyone has at least one person in their circle who takes themselves too seriously. Whenever they’re present, you notice that everybody is walking on eggshells. They’re trying their best not to do or say anything to get this high-strung person in an uproar.
If that person is you, now you understand why everyone may seem so nervous around you. It’s a double-edged sword that results in less genuineness and empathy. Everyone is second-guessing what the other is thinking and feeling.
10. You Are Hypercritical of Yourself
No doubt, you’ve accomplished goals over the years that should be a source of pride. When you work hard to gain knowledge and learn new skills, you’ve got a right to feel good about them. If not, you may be someone who takes things personally.
Successful people never stop learning and setting new aspirations. However, you may be dissatisfied regardless of what you achieve. You may downplay it to others or feel inadequate and undeserving.
Instead of appreciating your talents and skills, you are often your own worst critic. You can find fault in your best efforts and may never have a kind word for yourself. Perhaps it gives you a feeling of control to criticize your accomplishments before someone else does.
Many people who are workaholics and perfectionists take themselves too seriously. Nothing is ever done to their satisfaction, and they are constantly out to prove a point. If you’re first at the finish line, you may wonder why you weren’t there sooner.
When you’re hypercritical of yourself, you may feel the need to apologize for it constantly. Not only do you say you’re sorry, but you also try to make amends and try not to repeat the offense. However, high-strung people are like a broken record of apologies that aren’t necessary.
You needn’t apologize for insignificant mistakes or for not being “perfect.” This compulsion may stem from your insecurities and low self-esteem. It’s almost as if you are apologizing to the world for simply being yourself.
Final Thoughts on Identifying That You Take Things Personally
When you realize that you’re not the center of everyone’s critical eye, it breaks the bonds of insecurity. The people who love you the most have your best interests at heart and want you to succeed. It’s all about learning to trust others and accepting yourself as deserving and worthy.
Additionally, you can’t enjoy life if you constantly feel like you’re singled out and all eyes are on you. Stop taking things personally and start being mindful and enjoying all that you’ve been blessed with today!