4 Ways To Stop Taking Everything Personally

Photo: getty
Taking all feedback to heart? Well, Stop!
Contributor
Self

Feedback is just another person's perspective. Everyone has a choice to take it to heart...or not.

It has taken me a long time to understand and embrace that feedback is simply another person’s perspective. I am free to take it or leave it.

But what about feedback from a boss or family or friends? Same thing — I am free to decide for myself if I want to make any changes based on their perspective.

There may very well be consequences and those must be considered and impacts weighed as I make my decisions, yet I still have a choice.


It sounds easy — so why have I spent many years fighting against this and reacting to any and all feedback as if something was wrong with me? Oh, too many reasons to count, so I’m sharing the ones that have had the most impact on me, and my happiness, recently.

In order to learn how not to take all things personally, and let them affect your happiness and self-esteem we have to look at these four reasons why it's so hard to learn a different way to relate to others:

1. You may have a weak connection to your purpose.

A lot of my adulthood was a pursuit of items on an imaginary checklist that was based on someone else’s values. This allowed me to mindlessly drift along only thinking about specific outcomes and not take full responsibility for my life.

Once I decided to find my purpose and connect all decisions to this, I’ve been more fulfilled and less conflicted with myself. My vision and mission are broad so it’s not about exact outcomes but more about the culmination of choices that align with what matters to me. 

The path to my purpose is not always a straight line and I’ve learned to appreciate this even when it’s tough.

2. Bucking the trend is hard.

Living by a disconnected checklist is something that most people I meet are doing so I end up feeling like I’m swimming against the current — bucking the trends of society. Now that I’m connected to my purpose, I don’t want to stop because I feel authentic.

I am no longer an imposter in my own life, which is great because I have to live with me 100 percent of the time. Still, it can feel temporarily easier to follow the checklist for comfort, especially when it involves loved ones.

I’ve come to realize that some of them may not be able to accept my decision to ditch the checklist they hold so dear. It still stinks sometimes. Ugh.

3. Misery loves company.

This was a hard truth for me to accept because I want to believe we can all be happy for each another even when we do things differently. Discombobulated people love to commiserate and have their lot in life validated by others doing the same thing.

It can be hard to face someone who’s genuinely connecting with their purpose and not so worried about outside opinions. The result is often judgment and pressure masked as feedback and concern and I fell for it a lot!

Let me be clear. I’m not talking about situations where safety and security are at risk. I’m talking about day-to-day situations where people make your life about them. Everyone is biased to a degree so we must all feel empowered to take feedback with a grain of salt.


RELATED: 4 Methods To Stop Your Spouse From Criticizing And Nagging You


4. It's easy to personalize everything.

Look, at a certain level, all feedback is personal because it’s about you and it’s normal to have emotional reactions. The key is not letting reactions linger too long and cause the sentiment to get etched into your soul. Internalizing negative feedback used to lead me in a downward spiral where I wasted energy being angry and judgmental.  

Even basking in the glory of positive opinions made me rest on my laurels and miss opportunities.

The good news is we all have a choice on how we react and for how long. I’m not concerned when I celebrate or have a tantrum for a day or so, but I take notice when I go on and repeat scenarios or seek reassurance from others. That’s when I know I’m close to getting stuck in the muck.

More good news…even when we’ve gotten stuck, we can decide at that moment to change. We may have to refocus several times before we’re back on track, yet each time we do, moving forward.

I’m a lot more discerning about the feedback I embrace but it’s by no means simple.

About a year ago, I was swept up in the perspective of a colleague who suggested I take a coach training that could lead to an employment opportunity. My colleague did this and it increased his earning potential; he was concerned about mine and shared that feedback.

I wasn’t terribly worried about my earning potential but had a knee-jerk reaction (disconnected from my purpose). Lacking confidence, I talked to a couple of friends who also had money fears and they encouraged me to do this (I stopped bucking the trend).

The training was more intense than I planned and the main concept went against my values. During the training, I was off my game and felt raw. When it was over, I found others who felt the same way and we commiserated (my misery needed friends) but we still decided to pursue a position with the company because of fears around money! 

Not. Even. Kidding.

The interview was worse than having a tooth pulled. They provided feedback, which was critical of my style, and encouraged me to change. The silver lining? I did not personalize it. I only took what I found helpful without judgment of myself or them; just thoughtful consideration and strong choices about what was right for me.

This was an empowering moment that I reflect on often as a time when I decided not to take feedback to heart.


RELATED: 5 Ways To Shush Your Inner Critic That Keeps You From Doing You


Bridget Baisch is the founder of Strong Minds Consulting & Coaching. She provides consulting, training, and coaching to businesses and individuals who are looking to make the most of day-to-day interactions.

Author
Contributor