How to Stop Taking Things Personally
Do you ever find yourself taking things personally?
If so, you’ll know the sting of rejection can hurt so badly you contemplate never trying again.
Or negative feedback on a performance review can feel like a big neon sign flashing, “You’re just not good enough.”
People will tell you to stop taking things personally, and maybe you’ve tried.
But simply telling yourself to stop taking things personally just doesn’t work.
At least, it never has for me.
In areas where I’ve taken things personally, I’ve found myself either giving up completely or seriously holding myself back, determined to play it safe.
It wasn’t until I learned this that I was able to experience criticism, rejection, or failure without completely doubting myself:
When we’re taking things personally, it’s a sign that our self-worth is attached to our success in that area.
As long as things work out, we feel good about ourselves. Capable. Confident.
But the moment someone or something threatens that, our confidence crumbles and self-doubt sets in.
Even in areas where I’d believed I was confident, such as my passion for writing short stories, I found myself quitting the moment things got hard. I’d ridden a wave of success for a few years on that particular passion, but it turned out that my self-worth was so attached to that success that the minute it wavered, I concluded I wasn’t worthy anymore and bowed out.
How heart-breaking that was.
There’s only one thing that works when it comes to stop taking things personally – be it criticism on that project you worked so hard on, rejection after a date you really got your hopes up about, or a failed business venture – and that’s to draw a line between the way things turn out and your sense of worthiness.
You’ll know you’re taking something personally if you find yourself doubting your abilities, losing faith in yourself, or wanting to call it quits.
That’s a sign that you’re interpreting that event to mean something about you as a person – about your worth or your capabilities in that area.
But when we look a little closer, this interpretation doesn’t really hold.
How can one experience represent your value as a whole?
The truth is, no one event (or even multiple events) defines you. No one action is a reflection of your whole character. No single mistake tells you you’re incapable. And no individual rejection means you aren’t deserving.
You are always enough.
Yes, sometimes your effort or actions won’t be "enough" to cause the outcome you'd hoped for. But that’s okay - you are more than just the sum of these things.
The key is to remember this, to value yourself as a whole and keep the negative event in perspective.
Developing the type of self-worth that isn’t dependent on external factors is one of the essential keys to overcoming negative thinking and accepting yourself, which I teach in the Positive Perspective course. It’s not out yet, but it will be later this year. If you’re interested, then you can add yourself to the waitlist here.