How to stop taking things personally

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Kevin Mangelschots

People who are emotionally invested in something have the tendency to take things personally. But just because you’re invested doesn’t mean you have to take everything to heart or that everything is your fault either.

Learning how to stop taking things personally is important to live a content, happy life. Furthermore, it will help you to become a confident individual.

How do I learn not to take things personally?

Quote saying, “stop taking things personal, for this is the root to most of your problems. If you become calm with life, peace will prevail.”

  1. Stop Worrying About What Other People Think

    People all around the world have different personalities. With wildly varying ethics, values, cultures, and upbringing.

    Thus, it is only logical that these varied personalities express themselves through different thoughts, ideas, and arguments.

    This means that whatever we do, we’re never all going to think and act the same. But that’s generally a good thing, since different thoughts and ideas are necessary in order to grow as people and as a society. It also helps to solve problems, as the same thought processes would make the world remain static. Not to mention that it would be a very boring world if we all think alike.

    But that’s also the exact reason why you should stop worrying about what other people think of you. You can’t please everyone, even if you did everything in your power to please others. There would still be people disliking you just for the simple fact that you’re trying to please everyone.

    Aim to be true to yourself and to be the person you want to be or become in the future. The right people will stay, while the wrong ones will quickly get out of your life.

  2. Know Your Worth

    Know that you’re valuable as a human being. To your family, your friends, your colleagues at work, and to every stranger out there that you will help in the future.

    People that don’t appreciate you either don’t know you and judge too easily, or have no business being part of your life. That’s why you should know your worth and cut toxic people out of your life.

    They’re not beneficial to you in any way. And the only purpose they serve is to drag you down along with them. Of course, to know your worth, you’ve got to be self-confident. And that’s something that we can most certainly work on.

  3. Don’t Jump To Conclusions

    Just because you’re taking something personally or the wrong way doesn’t mean that it was meant to be taken that way. Try not to jump to conclusions too quickly. Because we tend to not see things the way they are, we see the things like we are.

    That’s why something can be said that was perfectly harmless, but can still be taken the wrong way because we’re jumping to conclusions. It is also possible that we have a negativity bias, which means we’re more sensitive and likely to see the bad things. It might also be a result of low self-esteem.

  4. Let Things Go

    Image of the words, “let go” written in white letters with the sky as the background

    Letting things go is hard, but it is a skill that can be learned through effort and hard work.

    We need to learn to let go of many things throughout our lives. We need to let go of people, potentially our jobs, and our ability to do everything ourselves when we get older. Of course, not everyone has to give up their job or their abilities when they get older, but you get my drift.

    Still, we can’t keep everything the way it used to be. Life is not static, and things are constantly changing, and as a consequence, so do our lives. This means that we need to realize that letting things go is a big part of our lives. And constantly stressing about the things we’ve lost or are going to lose eventually is exhausting and detrimental to our health.

  5. Consider the source

    Illustration about a brain exchanging information.

    Everyone has a right to have an opinion. But that doesn’t mean that everyone’s opinion is valid or equally important.

    Some people are more qualified to give an opinion, such as people who know us very well, love us, and who are intelligent.

    People who don’t like us, and are looking to give “advice” for the wrong reasons like for example looking to create drama, are not people who we should be bothered by. Those are not the folks we should take things personally for.

    Always consider the source. People who we don’t like, or who don’t like us, are not individuals who we should give power to. And taking things personally shows them that they have power over us. That they can control our thoughts, and consequently, our feelings.

  6. Give critics a chance, but not unlimited chances

    People who are critical of you should be given a chance IF and only if they are close to you, want the best for you, and/or if you believe that there’s any validity to those critical messages.

    Just like people make mistakes and deserve a second chance, so do your critics at times.

    Still, it’s important to not simply hand out second chances on a whim to everyone out there. Some people are deserving, others aren’t. Try to analyze your critics as objectively as possible in order to figure out who deserves their second chance.

  7. Question your own perfectionism

    Illustration how perfectionism and procrastination influence each other.

    We like to think of ourselves as being perfect human beings, but we aren’t. We can be wrong as well. And sometimes there’s validity to our critics.

    That’s why learning how not to take anything personally isn’t good, either. As it prevents us from growing and learning new things as a person.

    That’s why we should always evaluate ourselves and those who are critical of us. We shouldn’t automatically assume they’re wrong. We also shouldn’t automatically assume we’re wrong, and they’re right either.

    Take a long, hard, objective look at yourself to see if we’re in fact in the wrong. Keeping an objective outlook about ourselves is extremely hard since we’re personally involved and emotionally invested. Still, do your best to do so.

  8. Toe the line between taking things personally and being personally invested

    Being personally invested in things is great because it provides meaning in our lives. We do our best work when we’re emotionally invested. But just because you’re emotionally invested does not mean you need to take everything personal.

    If something goes wrong or someone gives critical advice, it can be directed at other people, or perhaps at how you could improve something without it necessarily being an attack on you personally.

    I’ve noticed this at my work as well. If you give someone advice on how to do something better or more efficiently, people often have a tendency to take it as a personal attack, or an attack at their character, rather than as an attempt to improve something. And improving something would be beneficial to both parties.

  9. Question Your Beliefs

    One of the best things to do in order to learn not to take things personally is questioning our beliefs.

    Our beliefs tend to be biased, even for the most rational and objective individuals. And people in general are highly subject to emotions and, thus, are subjective creatures.

    We are influenced by our environment. Which means by our culture, the people around us, and conformation bias, which basically means that we only search out information that confirms and reaffirms our already existing beliefs.

    We should always question our beliefs. It is perfectly okay for them to change. To evolve into something new and better through experience and new knowledge.

  10. Acknowledge the spotlight effect

    The spotlight effect means that we have a tendency to overestimate how much other people focus on us and, thus, the amount of things they notice about us. It means we are overly conscious about ourselves. About our looks and our behavior in a crowd full of people.

    Hence, the name spotlight effect. Because we think we have a spotlight pointed at us all the time that highlights all of our flaws and insecurities for the whole world to see.

  11. Become More Confident

    Picture of a person cutting the letter T of the sentence “I can't do it” with a pair of scissors.

    When we have low self-esteem, we often have an accompanied negativity bias. This means we focus on, and tend to only notice, the negative things in life.

    Instead of brushing things off as insignificant, we lean towards taking things more personally, even if they weren’t intended to be taken this way.

    People are acutely aware of their position in the social hierarchy. We probably evolved this way in order to survive, as having no group, or people who would fight with us and protect us would mean certain death in history.

    Becoming more confident can lead to learning how to not take things to heart, or more accurately and appropriately, not everything.

  12. Be Too Busy to Care

    Keeping yourself busy prevents your mind from wandering off. And while you can’t influence your emotions directly, your thoughts do influence your emotions. And it is exactly our thoughts that we can, and should, learn to get under our voluntarily control.

    Being busy, preferably with the things that are important and meaningful to us, can go a long way to stave off negative thoughts. Thus, it can also be used in order to take things less personally.

  13. Stop giving your power away to other people

    Acknowledge that you’re giving your power away when you let other people influence your thoughts. Of course, people interact with each other and thus our environment does indeed affect our mood.

    But, what I’m saying is that you should be careful who you give that influence to. The people who don’t want the best for you, or the ones who are always negative and nagging, are not the sort of folks you should give any sort of power to.

  14. Don’t lower yourself to their level

    Some people try to drag others down in order to feel better about themselves. Maybe they even do so just so they’re not feeling miserable on their own.

    They won’t find happiness this way, nor will this improve their lives in any way shape or form. And while it’s enticing to deliver retribution and payback for what all the bad things they’ve done to us, I recommend not doing so, as you should aim to be the change that you want to see in the world. And spending any time and energy on them is wasted and not worth it.

    Remember that a lot of people out there are suffering and feeling miserable. So don’t take it personally. Remind yourself that others are often simply projecting their own negative feelings onto you. It’s like they’re staring into a mirror.

  15. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

    If you’re empathic, you can put yourself in another person’s shoes. Consequently, you’re better able to understand other people and where they’re coming from.

    Perhaps you can see their point of view and argument, perhaps you can see that they’re simply miserable and are looking for a scapegoat to project their own negativity on.

    Since people have such different personalities, being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes will go a long way to understand different point of views, even if you don’t agree with them. And even just apprehending others’ outlook will go a long way to take things less personally.

  16. Focus on the positives

    Image of a cat with a smile and teeth painted on a piece of paper in front of the cat's face.

    Focussing on the positives takes your mind off the more negative events in life. If you can maintain a positive outlook and attitude, then you’re much less likely to take things the wrong way or to take things personally.

    Controlling your mind and negative thoughts can help teach you how to stop taking things so personally.

    Controlling your thoughts will go a long way towards staving up negative emotions and the spotlight effect that typically happens when we are acutely aware of our own behavior and thoughts.

  17. Develop a thicker skin and learn to shrug it off

    People these days seem to find everything offensive, even the slightest, most insignificant things. Since everyone has a different personality, there’s no way we can all think and act the same.

    This means that it’s best to develop a thicker skin and to learn to shrug things off. You can’t agree with everyone, and others won’t always agree with you.

    Even if you do happen to be right, if others won’t listen or change their point of view, then it’s best to accept it and move on rather than dwell on those feelings.

  18. Get curious rather than feeling righteous

    Try to be curious and to search for the truth instead of attempting to win the argument and trying to make people pay for being wrong or negatively impacting your life.

    People who are looking to feel righteous are searching for things to take personally in order to make other people pay for seemingly making things personal. People who are curious are looking to learn new things and to come one step closer to the truth.

    Learning new things is always beneficial, while having a chip on your shoulder and trying to pay retribution to others isn’t.

Conclusion

Learning how to stop taking things personally is something that’s both doable and the sensible thing to do.

Of course, some advice should be taken to heart. And automatically dismissing all advice will close off your mind to new experiences. Never mind that it will prevent you from growing as a person.

But care should be taken who you take advice from, as the best advice typically comes from those close to us and who want the best for us.