When people do things unintentionally that affect us, such as cutting us off in traffic, we can take it as a personal attack and feel so aggrieved. Even worse, when people do things or says things directly to us that are hurtful and mean. How can you not get upset?
It takes practice but telling yourself it means nothing about you personally helps you avoid hurt. I am able to do this now with acquaintances and strangers. I just don’t take it personally. With family and close friends, it is harder. When my sons didn’t remember my birthday, I could only take it personally, although I knew it said more about their adolescent selfishness, I still was hurt. But where my relationship is not bound with close ties, I don’t take it personally.
A couple of examples. I work in an industry where people feel the need to complain. Often. With strong language. I know I do my best and follow procedure, so I don’t take it personally. The complaint tells me more about the complainer. I try to help my colleagues to not take it personally, but some do. And they become quite upset. That emotion doesn’t help them or the situation.
One time a mother came in quite irate. She was shouting and abusing me, abusing other colleagues. She wanted me to bite and shout back, probably so she could them complain about me or perhaps to prove her point that anger is the result of others provoking you. I didn’t respond with anger or even intemperate language. The mother started yelling, inches from my face. Her action told me more about her – her inability to control herself, her disappointment at her son, her need to blame others for her son’s actions, her own fear of her son who abused her. The whole situation was not about me.
I work with a colleague who takes everything personally. Compliments about others are even taken personally. How on earth can you see a compliment about someone else as a personal insult? He sees it as a backhander against him. I really want to say to this fellow:
How bloody stressful to always be looking for insults and attacks! Carrying that chip on the shoulder, where you think everyone is out to get you and you need to attack first, lest you be attacked, must be an awful weight.
Then there’s gossip. We all know it says more about the gossiper than the person being spoken about. Do you like the person saying the unkind comment? Do you value their opinion? Do you know it is not true? If you answer no to the first two and yes to the last, why care what they say?
Not that I am a hard-nosed bitch (though some might disagree). Nor do I ignore advice or criticism. And I don’t go through my day in a Pollyanna fog. I just like to look for the positive in people and life.
So save your stress, save the negative emotions for things that really count (though this may not be truly Ruiz’s second agreement in action).
Give it a try. Repeat after me: this isn’t about me!
Now time for today’s log:
1. Did I have a laugh today?
Yes, with a neighbour and with a colleague. Though the latter was slightly black.
2. Did I give someone a hug today?
3. Did I do a relaxation activity, such as read a book, have a bath, light a candle, dream, call someone and have a chat, sit in the sun?
Yes, went for a walk.
4. Did I do something good for someone else or be nice to someone?
Think I was supportive with a colleague.
Today’s decluttered item = rather than throwing something out, I am proud I resisted the urge to bring something home. I went to a conference today. I was given a satchel with reading material. I read the material while there and found that the papers were online. I left the satchel and the papers at the venue. I don’t need another satchel and I don’t need any more papers that won’t get read, especially if the material is available online.
I took an item of stationery from one of the sponsors but handed it back. Again, I don’t need it.
I was also given the opportunity to get nice, quite expensive sunnies for free. But I have so many! So I resisted the desire for more, for the new, for a slightly different colour than ones I already have.
All this stopped the need for future decluttering!