Taking Things Personally (Internalizing)
When you know yourself better than anyone else through careful and consistent self-study, and you become the authority of yourself, you see that you don’t have to agree to everyone’s opinions or feelings or judgments of you. Those judgments belong to them until you decide they will or will not belong to you! READ THAT A FEW TIMES!
You can’t control other people and what they do or say, but you can decide to not take anything personally.
You know from your own human experience that all humans suffer, and if you know people “project” their feelings and struggles onto others, what makes you think you don’t do the same thing?
This insight can transform your relationships with both yourself and others because you can choose to respond to others (and to your own projections, thoughts, and opinions) with more compassion and understanding.
So, how well do you know your own thoughts and feelings and whether or not you are blaming other people for things that are really about you?
Read carefully and consider: How much of what you think is about other people is really about you?
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!
A. Try to notice when you might be “projecting” your own feelings onto others. Explore your experience and observation through writing in your journal. You may learn more about how you project when you write about it.
B. You don’t have to observe or study others to determine whether or not they might be projecting. That’s none of your business. Your business is to choose whether or not to “consume” or “agree with” what others think or believe about you. Practice doing that next time you are talking with friends or teachers or co-workers or whomever when they make a judgment about you. This is a deliberate practice that you are doing for yourself— to learn. You will have to prepare yourself beforehand!
“Don’t take anything personally”
— Don Miguel Ruiz
One of Don Miguel Ruiz’s (1997) four agreements: “Don’t take anything personally” is about exactly what is described above—-your independence and ownership of yourself which means your thoughts, your perspective, and your choices. You don’t have to allow others to manipulate you or manipulate how you feel about or understand yourself.
As Eleanor Roosevelt and other wise people have asserted, nobody can make you feel, think, or choose anything without your consent. You do have a choice about how to respond to what befalls you as well as whether or not you accept others’ words, opinions, criticisms, or praise of you.
You have more power than you might think. You can choose to change your mind, change your language, and change your attitude to change your own life. This is simple, but we like to complicate it with blaming and excuses and all sorts of story-telling because we struggle to be honest. Again– welcome to human nature! Forgive yourself and try, try, again.
If Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning (2006), Viktor Frankl could choose to find compassion for his Nazi oppressors and remain responsible for his own attitude while living as a captive, then it’s highly likely that we, too, can choose wellness in the face of our struggles, no matter what they might be.
Continue to Practice
Practice the way you receive others’ opinions of you. Try to pause and sit with your immediate reactions to what someone says about you, or even about someone else. Play with various ways you could choose to ponder, accept, or reject others’ opinions of you (or of that other person).
Practice trying to remain neutral when listening to others. Try to consider their opinions, statements, or comments as neither good nor bad, hurtful nor helpful, but only observe them as opinions, statements, or comments and nothing more. Try to sit the space of observing without reacting or responding. Be with what is without doing anything about it.
*****If you are feeling really strong and open, get into a political discussion and practice remaining neutral.
Practicing means lots of trial and error. Be patient, compassionate with yourself and deliberate about learning more about making conscious, mindful choices for your wellness. The freedom that comes from the effort and attention you put into knowing yourself better will be worth it!