Tips to help you avoid this common relationship trap!
Don't take ANYTHING at all personally.
This can be difficult advice to swallow.
Sure, when a complete stranger cuts you off in traffic while making rude hand gestures at you, it's pretty easy not to take it on. Most of us can chock a moment like that up to another person's bad day (or bad life) that has nothing whatsoever to do with us.
But, there are countless other occasions when it's far more difficult not to take personally what someone else says or does.
When you're sure that your partner's bad mood is all because of you...and you have some pretty clear reasons why you believe that, it's tough not to take it personally.
It can be tricky to just allow the strong words, mood or actions of another person to roll off your back. This is because sometimes you have played a role in a situation or dynamic. Your choices have been part of what has upset, thrown off or otherwise adversely affected the one you love.
What's the harm in taking it personally?
After all, isn't it just as detrimental and disrespectful not to own up to your share or your actions?
Yes, it is detrimental to avoid responsibility, but it is equally bad for your relationship (and your own well being) to take heap the blame on yourself or try to take on your partner’s emotions or mood.
When you take it personally, there is a tendency to be hyper-self- centered. We humans are already self-centered because we look at other people and the world through our unique and situated point of view. But, when you make everyone else's grumpiness, anger, pain and sadness somehow about you, you've crossed into the land of being hyper-self-centered.
This is a place where we all go from time to time.
When you react to other people on a regular basis from this place, it can really cause problems. For one thing, when the situation or the other person's anger or angst truly aren't about you-- or aren't much about you-- then you're misinterpreting.
You're also diverting attention and energy away from your partner or the circumstances when you might actually be able to help...if you weren't so caught up in this being about you or your fault.
It's as if you are wiping up spilled cereal from the floor and only seeing the cereal, milk and broken bowl. What you aren't seeing is that the kitchen walls are coming down.
When you take things personally, you can’t see what might be a more accurate and possibly even more urgent reality that you could be giving assistance to.
Instead, you are upset right along with your partner and the trouble isn’t being addressed. Usually, anger flares and distance forms in the relationship.
What's the difference between taking it personally and taking responsibility?
There are definitely times when your actions have played a direct role in your partner’s (or someone else’s) upset or angst. To merely dust off your hands, turn your back on whatever is going on and proclaim that, "I'm not taking this personally" is only going to make things worse.
When you don't take anything personally, you CAN still take responsibility for your share of a relationship dynamic and for your decisions that may have contributed to your partner’s hurt, frustration or pain.
If you can stay calm and look at the bigger picture of what is going on-- take off the blinders of hyper-self-centeredness-- then you can better see your role and how you can help. You can also communicate that to your partner in a way he or she can hear.
Stop when your impulse is take it personally. Check in with yourself and possibly even with your partner to get more information. Take responsibility for your share and apologize if appropriate. Work together with your partner to come up with an action that will bring improvement.
Communicating and working as a team are two ways to keep connection and spark alive in your love relationship or marriage. Want to know what else to do? Visit www.relationshipgold.com and download Passionate Spark~Lasting Love.