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Taking things personally

I’ve been doing some self-help recently on ‘taking things personally’ and looking at new ways in which I can STOP self sabotaging when something I find hurtful is said to me or done to me. Taking thing personally can lead to anxiety, fear, anger, depression, and the impact can be just as debilitating such as fighting back (saying things you wish you hadn’t, holding onto a grudge/feeling hatred), feeling awful and just wanting to ‘get away’ (losing a friend, resigning from a job) and the health issues that come along with these feelings.

There are many reasons why we take things personally (and consequently it may change your mood or behaviour). Here are a few reasons that you might want to look out for:

1. Social Perfectionist

Have to be perfect in other peoples eyes and worry about what others think of you

2. Negative self talk

Black and white interpretations – ‘I’m a failure’ instead of ‘I’ve made a mistake’

3. Getting lost in your own stories

This behaviour will lead to either fight (anger) or flight (fear)

4. Not assertive enough

Being overly accommodating others, not saying no (when you want to/need to) instead of putting yourself first sometimes

5. Spending time with the wrong people

Spend enough time around people who disrespect you and you are going to end up treating yourself in the same way

6. Afraid to feel proud

Thinking that you are putting yourself above others instead of being kind to yourself and acknowledging it when you have achieved something great (big or small)

We can all be sensitive at times and getting feedback or receiving criticism is a part of life. You can see from some of the reasons noted above how responding to criticism in any of the ways above would inevitably create more conflict and pain. Hearing negative feedback and not overreacting is a life skill! I know from my own experience I’ve needed to take a step back every now and then to ensure I don’t ‘fall down the negative hole’ when I’ve heard things I don’t necessarily like or agree with. I’m still learning 😊…

Some techniques that might help would be:

1. If someone has said or done something to hurt, you could give them another chance. People make mistakes, might be going through their own issues and may not realise they are being hurtful and sometimes other people’s ‘rudeness’ isn’t about you. Don’t give them unlimited chances though…

2. If you can focus on the content of the words (or deed) first then do that, as opposed to feeling unhelpful emotions. Is there something to learn from it? Feedback should always be used as a basis for improvement. Getting annoyed or hurt might be warranted, however its not helpful to you.

3. Consider who it is providing the feedback (or wrongdoing). Is it someone you respect? Is it something you can take to heart or something you can ‘take with a pinch of salt’ and let go? You can’t please everyone no matter what you do or say.

4. Don’t build a story around one comment i.e., don’t jump to conclusions (see point 3 around ‘getting lost in your own stories’).

5. Know your own faults, virtues and indeed what triggers your emotions. Build on your own self confidence and self worth because this will be the foundation that everything else is built upon. If you lack in these areas put some work into helping yourself as it will pay dividends in the long run.

6. If someone is disrespectful or cruel to you then responding the same will just cause further problems and toxic situation. If you feel you need to respond, take some time out, let the emotion die down, think clearly about what you want to say and go and say it!

7. Let go of perfectionism. Making mistakes is part of being human.

Remember also, it’s OK not to be OK. You never know what a person is going through (because they might hide it – they can’t ask for help or feel they always need to be strong), so if you can be anything be kind. Much Love Jo xxxx

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