Stop caring what other people think
As a human, you are born and develop with the mindset of “me, myself and I.” This means you, like all humans, grow up taking things personally. When you take others’ behavior personally, the assumption is that everything is about “me”.
During your childhood, like every other human, you take everything personally. The human judgment center is in the prefrontal cortex, which does not fully develop until humans are in there late adolescence. Since the brain has not been fully developed, children will always jump to the conclusions that everything is about them. Kids think they are responsible for everything, “me, me, me, always about me.” Yet, nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of them. All humans are independent, responsible actors who live in their own mind, a world completely different from yours or anyone else. When you take something personally, you assume that you can influence their mind, you can control their behavior, you can make them, feel a certain way. You try to impose your mind on their world.
When you take things personally, you feel offended and disrespected. Your reaction is either to defend yourself or submit passively. Either way you take someone’s criticism and view it as literal, personal and serious. You make something big out of some behavior that is so little. You want to correct them and prove them wrong. You want to maintain your innocent and try with all of your might to defend your beliefs, which only serves to heighten the conflict. You have the need to be right and this makes everyone else wrong unless they agree with you, my way or the highway. However, you are human as well. Thus, whatever you feel or do is also just a projection of your own emotional memories and past relationships.
Even when a situation seems personal, even if your closest family or friends insults you directly to your face, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are about their own minds. Their point of view comes from their own emotional memories and learning experiences that have shaped them into the person they are today.
If someone gives you an opinion and says, “Hey you look fat,” don’t take it personally, because the truth is that all humans are dealing with their own feelings, beliefs and opinions. Their judgment is not superior, they are only expressing an opinion. Opinions change, sometimes from minute to minute, day to day. Or perhaps that person’s remark is a actually expressed for themselves, not for you.
Their words are serving their own selfish purposes and have nothing to do with you and they have nothing to do with reality. They are only human and don’t know any better then you. Their judgment about the objective nature of life is not right, it’s just their opinion at this moment. They view on right or wrong is really their tastes. You can’t argue taste. Is red a better color then blue? Is steak better then chicken? They have preferences. They don’t really know what is best and have no standing on telling you how things “ought or should” be.
I do not take it personal when someone says, “Aaron you are wonderful” and I also don’t take it personal when someone says, “Aaron you are awful.” I know that when people are pleased they will say, “Aaron you are such a great help,” and if people are displeased they will say, “Aaron your such a burden.” Either way it does not affect me because I trust my own judgment and know what I am. I don’t need to get the approval of others’ because I know my strengths and limitations. I am aware of my human imperfections and accepted my mistakes.
I can acknowledge my success and reward my own efforts despite the absence of anyone else’s recognition. I do not depend on others to say, “Aaron you doing so well,” or “Why don’t you do better.” No, I don’t take it personally. Whatever other people think or whatever they feel is their problem, not mine. I know it is about how they see the world and find meaning to events in their life. It is nothing personal because they are dealing with themselves, not me. Other people are going to have their own opinions according to their own perception of circumstances. Therefore nothing they think or say is about me, it is really about them.
Whatever people do, feel, think, or say, don’t take it personal. If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You must accept that you are wonderful. The key to not taking things personal is unconditional self acceptance. You, like all humans, are born lovable and worthwhile. You, like all humans will never be worth more or worth less. You, like all humans will never be superior or inferior. No matter how much money, status or power you have, you will never be a better person. No matter how little appreciation, respect or comfort you have, you will never be a worse person. Your success and achievements do not make you a more loveable human. Your failures and losses do not make you a less lovable person. You are always going to be good enough. If you accept that you are unconditionally worthwhile and lovable, it is not necessary to believe or rely on other people to tell you that you are wonderful.
Friends having a disagreement image available from Shutterstock.
Karmin, A. (2013). Stop caring what other people think. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 7, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anger/2013/08/excessive-responsibility-is-harmful/