We were wandering along a forest trail talking about how it’s good to be a flexible thinker. To go with the flow and learn to adapt. To compromise with your friends, sometimes and allow them to do the same for you.
“I am good with that,” Sweet P says. And she can be.
“But then I get my heart broken. And I get stuck.” And she does.
Sweet P feels things deeply. The joys and exhilaration of peak experiences. The despair and hurt and hopelessness of failed friendships or disappointment.
I do too. Always have. I still have memories of Bobby in second grade when the teacher called him out for not having clean clothes. Wasn’t his fault. Never his fault. He was seven. He also didn’t have much of a bed. Didn’t get enough food. Nobody was ever looking out for Bobby. The kid was just trying to get by. And the teacher shamed him for it. I knew this even as a little bug in second grade and it fills me with sadness, still, today. I still wish that I’d known how to help Bobby.
Big Emotions are Part of a Big Experience
I feel life deeply. The joys and hurts settle into the nooks and crannies of my soul. My heart hurts when I’ve been a bad friend, or I’ve been hurt by someone’s insensitivity. I hate that others struggle. And that life isn’t fair. I want to fix things. Want everyone to be happy and lovey and feeling fine. But, I also know that all of these emotions and challenges are part of our experience. Part of life.
This is what I told my daughter this morning. But knowing it, doesn’t make you feel better when your heart is crushed. Still, I said, this kind of emotional connection is a gift. It allows us to love deeply and it motivates us to help others. It inspires our growth, but only when we learn to manage the emotions.
Because if we cannot find a way to move on and through with our feelings, we will be battered by their waves.
So, when I’m feeling the big stuff, in a big way, one that I can’t seem to shake, I also work to remember to not take anything personally. Nobody is doing anything to me. No one is out to get me. It isn’t all my fault. Things just happen sometimes – for a bunch of reasons that have more to do with other people and circumstances, than me. It’s okay. Whatever happens. It’s okay.
How to Avoid Taking Things Personally
Here are some ways to do it.
- Remember, you’ve got it going on. No matter what happens, dig deep to re-discover your essence and you’ll find your self-confidence too. Sure you are a human being which makes you fallible – just like everyone else. But you also have incredible skills and talents and abilities. Focus on those, when you are feeling insecure or as though you don’t belong.
- Shift focus, help someone else. When you are taking things personally and caught up in your own self-consciousness, it means we become worried about how others perceive us. Switch that up by finding a way to help others. Giving back will leave you feeling better about yourself and get you out of this self-absorbed mode that makes you think everyone is watching you.
- Be compassionate to yourself and others. We all get our feelings hurt and we all make mistakes. Remember that when the actions of others inadvertently impact you. Choose compassion over anger. Forgiveness over revenge. Then, you’ll be free to move beyond your insecurity into something that feels better.
- Be still, get curious, examine the thought. When I’m feeling particularly vulnerable and find myself smack dab in the middle of the Spotlight Effect personalizing everything, I try to pause and become mindful of my thoughts. This approach can help us to identify and scrutinize the beliefs that leave us feeling insecure and replace them with something more productive.