how to stop taking things personally

How to stop taking things personally: 7 effective tips

When you pay too much attention to the opinion of others, you burden yourself with unnecessary questions, which can drain you emotionally and hurt your self-esteem.
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Think about the last unpleasant conversation you had with your friend or a co-worker. What was it that ruined your mood? Did you have a falling-out with them due to a difference in opinion, or did they say something unpleasant that upset you? It can sometimes be hard to stop taking things personally when someone doesn’t like you for some reason or disagrees with you. It can play on your mind over and over again, keep you up at night, and put a damper on your mood. This discomfort can have a long-lasting impact on you, and can even consume your thoughts.

Let’s say, for example, someone doesn’t like how you dress, who your friends are, what you like to do in your free time, or anything else that is essentially none of their business. In such a case, what would you do to stop yourself from taking matters personally and move on with your day?

You can start by trying to understand why people behave the way they do. During most instances of a verbal spat, various factors play a role in influencing people’s behaviour. For example, how they were raised, who their friends are, what they watch on television, what they read, and various other experiences that shape their worldview. All these factors play a big role in defining an individual’s personality. In simple words, what they have been exposed to helped shaped their beliefs, values, and ultimately made them who they are today.

When you pay too much attention to the opinion of others, you burden yourself with unnecessary questions, which can drain you emotionally and hurt your self-esteem. Therefore, it is important not to take things too personally so that you can gain more control over your emotions and your self-worth. Here are a few ways to stop taking things personally.

Stop overthinking

The only reason why you would take something personally is when you yearn for the other person’s approval. You need to realise that not everyone has to like and accept you. Additionally, you can’t control what others think of you even if you wanted to. How people respond to you is outside the circle of your influence. If you accept yourself and act in a way you think is right, you will attract people who will accept you for who you are.

Don’t jump to conclusions

Oftentimes, we don’t give the other person a chance to explain themselves before we interrupt them and speak our minds. The next time a criticism is directed at you, make sure to slow down, take deep breaths, and attentively listen to the other person before jumping to conclusions. You might end up totally misconstruing their meaning or mishearing them altogether. When you react immediately after someone finishes speaking, you haven’t given yourself the time to process their words. So, use your active listening skills and try not to respond until you have heard the other person out.

Build your self-esteem

Self-esteem acts as a buffer between you and the opinions of others. When your self-esteem is high, you won’t pay much attention to what others think about you. In the words of American author and inspirational speaker Regina Brett, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” Even if what they are saying is true, it is not going to affect your self-worth. You will think of it as a flaw you can overcome and move forward. When you know who you truly are and what you stand for, it will be easier to push past criticism and stop taking things personally.

Refocus your attention

When you take things personally, you shift your attention from what someone said to how you feel about it. Those feelings can intensify if you fixate on them. You might even catch yourself rehearsing over what you would have said to the person if given another chance. This is called ruminating, which makes you purposely dig into old wounds and causes resentment. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this problem from occurring. You can try refocussing your attention by taking a walk to distract your mind, being in the moment, and breathing mindfully. This will help you develop coping mechanisms, and build the mindset that can help you stop taking things personally.

Set clear boundaries

You must put clear boundaries in place by saying no to people, activities or work that you don’t want to do or those that can harm you emotionally. When you don’t set boundaries, people can easily walk all over you. You are inviting them to say or do things as they please, and it will be hard not to take things personally when that happens. Boundaries let others know that there is a limit to what you are willing to accept. This will also increase your confidence and you will eventually stop taking things personally.

Let things go

If you start taking every criticism directed at you personally, you won’t have the time to do anything constructive. You will be busy thinking about how to get back at the people who offended or hurt you. So, learn to frame your experiences as lessons on how to better navigate difficult situations and be stronger. Holding on to things does more damage to you than the other person’s opinion. Let go of anger, bitterness and instead, make room for forgiveness and joy.

Don’t seek others’ approval

Kindness is an important personality trait, which distinguishes you from others. However, it is irrational to expect the same level of kindness that you show to others. Assuming that people will treat you with the same warmth will cause disappointment. You shouldn’t be good to others just because you wish to seek their approval. Being kind without having expectations will help you treat yourself and others better, and also help you stop taking things personally.

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