6 Reasons Why Taking Things Personally Doesn’t Work

6 Reasons Why Taking Things Personally Doesn’t Work

So much unnecessary suffering comes from taking things personally.

What do I mean by taking things personally?

* Your son knows not to leave food or used dishes in his room. You go into his room and you find a pizza box with half eaten pizza buried in his room with bowls of cereal and other food particles.

You think, He thinks I’m his maid. He doesn’t care about me. You think of one million more scenarios like this.

* Your daughter knows she should pick up her clothes and not throw her backpack and books all over the living room floor. You come in the house and there is a trail of clothes, dishes, and towels thrown around the house.

You think, she doesn’t respect me and I don’t matter. You think about all the times you have been disrespected. You conclude that you are a terrible mother,

* You called a friend and asked her to go to lunch. It’s been three days and she hasn’t returned your call.

You are sure she doesn’t care about you anymore or she would have returned your call. You know she wouldn’t do this to any of her other friends. You think of all the times you have been there for her.

* You made a nice dinner for your partner and he is 30 minutes late.

You think, he is so selfish, and only thinks about himself. He doesn’t appreciate me or think I’m important.

Bottom line taking things personally doesn’t help anyone.

6 Reasons to NOT Take Things Personally

1. It is Not True

It may feel true, but ask yourself, is this really true? Just because your daughter has a trail of clothes through your house doesn’t mean you don’t matter and you are a terrible mother. It is not true.

Your daughter’s trail of clothes can mean many things.

1. It is not her priority and she wants to talk to her friends.

2. She doesn’t feel like putting her clothes away.

3. She is exhausted.

Her actions impact you but it is not about you. IT CAN REALLY BE ABOUT HER.

***Identify the thought. What is the thought that you are taking personally? Ask yourself is it true? Is this normal kid behavior?

2. Your Obsessions lead you into Shame and Blame Land.

When you take things personally you obsess. You can write a novel about the meaning of towels on the floor, or the unreturned phone call. You blow it up big and project it into the future. Now you are confident it is true because you have reflected on the past and gathered your evidence. Before you know it you are 20 years into the future. You think, if she is throwing towels on the floor I feel sorry for her husband. What kind of mother will she be?

The crazy thing about this is we all do it. What a waste of our imagination. We actually suffer for these crazy stories we make up. The good news is you don’t have to.

***Write down your blame thoughts and shame thoughts. Do you go into blame (He is so selfish) or shame (I am a terrible mother)?

Again, ask yourself is it true? Ask yourself is it 100% true?

3. You React But Don’t Take Effective Action

When you analyze a situation ad nauseum it feels like you have taken action but you haven’t. You are in reaction mode. You are reacting to the meaning you have created.

When you react you don’t take effective action.

Parents don’t set boundaries or consequences. One client told me today about something her daughter had done and the mom was pretty worked up about it. When I asked her what the consequence was, she told me she forgot to give one. This is easy to do because your obsessions leave you in a fog.

Take effective action! Here are some examples of effective action:

***When there are towels on the floor instead of taking things personally think of a consequence to that action.

***Call your friend and make sure she got your message. Her kid could have erased it.

4. You Are Drained

When you take things personally, it brings up draining emotions. The thought, you don’t matter brings up feelings of sadness, anger, despair, and shame. These feelings drain your life energy. These ‘feelings’ feel true so you react.

***To change your feelings you need to change your original thought.

***Sometimes the feeling is more obvious than the thought. Start with the feeling and identify it. Now ask yourself what is the thought underneath the feeling.

5. You Lose the Big Picture

Combine your blown up story with the draining emotions and you are in drama mode.

When you are in drama mode you lose the big picture.

Your vision gets narrowed down to the Taking it Personal story.

You drop lots of positive information. Now when you look at your kids all you see is, they don’t respect me. You don’t see the funny things they do. You miss that they are making great grades in school. You lose gratitude.

***Look for examples your thought is NOT true. Write down what you appreciate about your child, partner or friend. What are you grateful for? When does your daughter show you she cares? When has your friend been there for you? What do you appreciate about yourself? How have you been a good mother?

6. You Get Off Track

You are so much in other people’s business that you ignore yourself.

You stop taking care of yourself.

*you miss meals and don’t exercise. You don’t get enough sleep or too much sleep. This leads to stress and overwhelm.

You aren’t productive

*you ignore things at home like keeping up with the bills. You don’t have creative energy. You are just trying to get by.

*** You need to detach from your Taking it Personal story. Treat yourself how you want to be treated so you feel valued, appreciated and cared for.

  • Get a Massage
  • Take a Zumba class
  • Do something fun or creative.
  • Meditate , pray and journal
  • Ask another friend to go to lunch
  • Take a nap

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1 Comment
  • kathy

    This is so true. I have spent many years working on this one!

    February 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm

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