Taking things too personally can wreak havoc over your life and your mind. It can lead to a life of constant anger, frustration, and worst of all entitlement.
The reason why I say entitlement is because when we take things too personally we might start to reach an unhealthy state of mind that the world revolves around us and that’s simply never the case. Why?
Because most of the time people are all in different states of minds, moods, and different life situations. So, when we cross paths with another human being we don’t truly know what kind of lens they are looking through unless, of course, we got to know them. But a perfect stranger? Someone on social media? A neighbor? A co-worker? Most of the time, we have not a clue what their life resume looks like.
I take all this into consideration if I hear or read someone say something that doesn’t necessarily align with MY life experiences or current “beliefs”. So what? Have I seen what they’ve seen? Have I been where they’ve been? Or maybe they don’t have a true awareness or understanding of something yet so they may well speak from a place of lack of awareness. Does this give me a reason to be angry or entitled? As far as how I handle this, I say no. Because I’ve learned to see beyond it.
It’s a real practice to be able to see beyond words. That is not to say that we shouldn’t feel something or productively express how we feel about something. Emotions are completely normal and I think they are a signal to let us know our own inner selves. Why am I angry? Why does this make me feel this way? I think emotions are what help us evolve but only if we don’t allow them to consume us and use them to hurt others.
I was recently in conversation with someone who I shared an idea with. The person responded, “That likely won’t work for you – there’s a lot of people already doing that.” You know what my immediate response was? “Hmm, alright, since you said that, I guess I’ll just give up and not even try.” The person immediately apologized. Later into the conversation, this person expressed to me how they had a dream/idea and gave it up because they didn’t feel like they would get that far or succeed because of competition.
That is just one example of how people aren’t really talking to you, they’re usually talking about their own life experiences or just to the extent in which they know about something, which can vary. Most people are walking around this way. Which is why we shouldn’t take everything so personally.
I could have easily gotten angry at this person and the conversation could have gone way differently. But we kept talking, we kept learning about each other. We kept the dialogue opened and comfortable instead of it being a battle of life experiences. We each shared our own life experiences and walked away from the conversation better people. That is the day I got inspired to write this piece. Although, I already had the perspective of not taking things too personally, I wanted to share it here.
I think these types of things can be used to open dialogue but because many humans are very emotionally driven, I can understand how it’s hard to do it sometimes. But if you can do it, I’d say use the opportunity to learn. Ask the person to elaborate, ask them what makes them think that. We cannot force our beliefs on another person but sharing perspectives in a positive manner can still plant seeds in another person’s life. You never know when you’re the breath of fresh air or the light that makes a person change their ideas for the better.
I have walked this earth a certain number of years and I have a certain number of experiences which make me who I am today. But as far as the way I think — I allow it to be ever changing. That’s not to say I don’t stand for something but I try to remain flexible in my approach with life. I try not to walk the earth thinking my way is the only way but many people do. So, when I am in conversation with people I immediately remind myself — they are speaking from their eyes, not mine. We haven’t seen the same things and we haven’t been to the same places (mentally, emotionally, physically, etc).
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking we all operate the same way. In some cases we do — we all eat, sleep, use the bathroom, etc. But our unique life paths can be so drastically different that we never know what a person is really thinking or feeling under all the layers.
And from this perspective, it’s why I continuously practice seeing beyond words.