How to NOT Take Things Personally: A Practical Guide - Christine Kane

Last week, I had lunch with a freelance writer who is interviewing me for a regional women’s magazine. Before the interview began, she related a situation that has left her drained and unhappy about a non-profit program she founded. As I listened, it became apparent that each of the people involved took each other’s miscommunications personally. Then, they told their “story” to other people who believed it. Those people continued the stories by passing them along to create a full-blown drama.

We’ve all done this. Some of us can catch ourselves taking things personally. And some of us don’t know how to shift it. We wonder why we take things personally and how we’ll ever get out of that mindset.

Though I’m far from being fully detached, I’ve come a long way on this path. Compared to where I once was, I feel like the Buddha. There’s nothing like the entertainment business to teach you – in a big way – how to not take things personally.

The Benefits of Not Taking Things Personally

The biggest benefits of not taking things personally are self-awareness and clarity. Being centered and grounded while knowing that only you can dictate whether or not you’re on track or whether or not you’re successful is a reward in and of itself. Anyone who has experienced this state of being knows how good it feels. Once you get a taste of it, you’ll strive to be in that state more often. Even when you get thrown off, you’ll relish the knowledge that you get to choose whether or not to remain stuck. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

Your Story is Rarely Correct

The first step in breaking the habit of taking things personally is to observe the stories you tell yourself. These stories have nothing to do with facts. They’re all about your translations. Do you spin a self-righteous tale about how you’re doing good things in the world and the evil right-wingers are closed and greedy? Do you have a good victim story about how you’re the sensitive one and people are cold and hurtful to poor souls like you? Do you feel rejected by situations that aren’t at all about rejection? Begin noticing if there are recurring threads woven throughout your personal stories. Begin asking yourself if there’s any truth in them at all. And ask yourself how you’d behave if they simply weren’t true.

Once you begin to notice the stories you tell yourself, breaking the habit of taking things personally can happen through some simple practices and courageous actions.

How to Not Take Things Personally

1 – SWSWSWSW

This stands for “Some will. Some won’t. So what? Someone’s waiting!” It means that some people are going to love what you do. Then, there will be those who visit your blog, look at your paintings, listen to your songs, read your poems, review your resume – and they’ll shrug and say, “Yea, not so much.” So what? Somewhere out there someone is waiting for your gift. And if you have to keep working on your craft, or wait a little while, that’s okay!

2 – Remember that people are busy

People are busy. They may not have time for you. Young musicians complain because they try to book a venue, but their emails weren’t answered. They give up. And they get resentful. I tell them the same thing: People are busy. It’s not personal. They just don’t have time to answer every email. (Revisit #1.)

3 – Email is instant. Use accordingly.

Email creates fabulous opportunities to take things personally. (Blog comments, too.) The quickness of our culture has removed much of the etiquette that some of us would normally expect. Most people just “fire it off.” If you get an email that hurts or feels personal, take an hour or so to chill out. Then re-read the email in a kind narrator’s voice. Be careful with the temptation to over-dramatize someone else being in a hurry with his email or comment. For some people, email is quick and easy. It is simply a tool – not a way to make you feel okay about yourself!

4 – Begin each day with presence and proactive-ness

How you begin your day often sets the tone for the day. If you start the day by opening your email and launching your browser, you are opening yourself up to external stuff – some of which may trigger you. Start instead with creative and proactive activities. Some possibilities: meditation, yoga, going to the gym, writing a blog, writing a song/poem, doing morning pages, writing down goals and intents, creating your day in advance. Start with a strong foundation of honoring yourself each day.

5 – Create a “Good Mojo” file

Create a “Good Mojo” folder in your email. Create a file called “Good Mojo” in your file cabinet. Fill these files with kind emails and loving cards from friends or co-workers or fans. If you’re taking things personally, you may as well rummage through these files to find the good messages, the words and cards from people who love what you do. Start keeping this folder and use it when you need it.

6 – Be willing to look like an idiot: Communicate

Recently one of my best friends and I planned to meet each other at a certain time in city we were both visiting. I called her when I was on the way, and in the conversation she said that I could “just go shopping outside of her hotel and she’d come down and meet me later.” Every part of my being shouted, “She’s blowing me off!” I hung up the phone feeling hurt. My drama-queen story-tellers were in the wings putting on their costumes. Before they got on stage, I called her back and I said, “Okay, I’m not trying to be pushy or weird here, but I feel like we had these plans and I don’t understand what happened.” She interrupted and said, “Oh, I’m so glad you called back to clear that up! I got the sense that you needed time and space, and I was trying to let you to have that!” Because I got a little brave and was willing to look a bit needy, we both got to laugh at our miscommunication.

If something feels strange or out of balance, check in with the other person. Take the responsibility. Say, “This may sound strange, but…” Or “I’m afraid I may have said something out of line. Is that possible?” Most people – not all – will be grateful that you cared enough to clear the air.

Note: This is not an appropriate technique in certain professional situations. If, for instance, someone has rejected your work for a gallery or a showcase, refer to #1 above. Don’t call a gallery owner (or promoter or record producer) back and say, “I sense you had some hostility towards me and I’m just checking in because it really hurt my feelings.” Not good.

7 – Beware of collusion

In the situation above, I could’ve chosen not to call my friend back. I could’ve called another friend and vented. I could’ve said, “I’ve come all this way to meet her and what does she say…?” The other friend could get hooked into my story, and we’d waste a whole tonage of energy investing in it. Not worth it. TAKE NOTE: Colluding is the best way to perpetuate the pattern of taking things personally. It takes a deep and committed discipline to shift out of this pattern. That’s because much of what we call friendship in our culture is little more than disliking the same people and staying stuck in our own versions of the truth and requiring that our friends agree with us. Collusion is rounding up people who believe your own illusions. Stop it.

8 – Make a list and move to the next thing

Many of us strategize for the one big thing that will be our “saving grace.” This is a veritable petri dish for taking things personally. You apply for a scholarship to one MFA program. You send your article off to one magazine. You ask only one producer to make your CD. There’s a better way here. Before you send yourself out into the world – be it resume, scholarship, grant, producer, publication – make a list of many options. List all of the publications, grants, employers, options, etc. Move down the list if someone says no. Find that someone who’s waiting.

9 – Shut up and listen

When you listen and quietly observe, you often find that you had it all wrong. You may actually see humor in how you can take everything so personally. Sit down on the floor, lean against a wall and quietly listen to your own breathing. Or, when you’re in a conversation with someone else, stop and listen. Really deeply listen. Try practicing this in every day conversations that aren’t emotional. This will prepare you for moments when you are taking something personally.

10 – Use unemotional language when you communicate

Phrases like “Well, you’re the one who…” and “You took that all wrong!” are inflammatory and do little to help a situation. Try to use language that’s not about the emotions and not about pointing fingers. “I think I didn’t communicate this well so let me try again.” Or, “I’m not sure I understand you. Can we discuss this on the phone?” The challenge is to communicate with unemotional language. Kind of a “here’s the facts ma’am” approach. Write out your desired outcome for the conversation. Get clear inside yourself, and then talk with the other person.

11 – Eat enough. Sleep enough.

Being tired or hungry will always make you more sensitive or irritable. Don’t try to function well if you’re hungry or if you haven’t slept well.

12 – Let the deeper goal be what motivates you

Who you become on your journey is far more meaningful than what happens to you. If you learn how to get beyond taking things personally by witnessing and then choosing a different response, you will eventually become unshakable. You can lose all your money; you can get rotten reviews of your recent work after being lauded for the last one; you can get fired tomorrow – but you can’t lose who you are. You can’t lose your essence. When you become someone who is clear and centered, you will have the tools to move through life no matter what happens externally.

116 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Brian Douglas

    This is going to sound crazy, but I actually take it personally when strangers laugh or look at me like they have trodden in something nasty… Take today I was going into the library, two guys looked at me, sniggered and shook their heads then walked off..

    How do I not take that seriously when it was blatantly aimed at me, I am a 42 year old man, with depression and anxiety issues, part of me wanted to confront them, but in doing so it would let my anger out, and they would have won…

    Instead I ignored them and unfortunately been dwelling on it far too much, it’s not the first time people have done this, when it continually happens you can’t help but take it personally…

    Am I ugly, why does it happen so often? why are people always picking on me and singling me out…

  • Nik

    Hi Christine, thanj you so much fot such a wonderful article. It makes so much of sense. It has really helped me.

    Regards,
    Nikhil
    Fiji Is.

  • marc

    Very interesting article. I always used to work on the premise “Consider the source of a comment” and I find that that technique only works up to a point. I find it’s much easier to disassociate from the importance and/or validity of that particular individual,and have a more neutral stance, especially when offended or upset. You CANNOT deny what they said hurt you, but you CAN refuse to make yourself miserable by their comments. Hence the Eleanor Roosevelt expression. ANyway, a person’s opinion of you or your behaviour is merely an interpretation of THEIRS and might even reflect more on THEM tahn it does to you. Thanks for the article!

  • SG

    Thank you so much for putting things into perspective for me! I especially liked the SWSWSWSW part, as I’ve become crippled by fear, second-guessing myself, wondering if people will really like my music. But this was a much needed push to try again and see what comes. In any case, I really just need to free up my to-do list and make more time for myself and other important things, so thank you for this wonderful piece of insight! The miscommunication and ’email is instant’ parts were also helpful reminders. I’m so quick to assume and become hot-headed that I lose sight of what the person was really trying to communicate, or to clear up the misunderstanding. I hope to incorporate these nuggets of wisdom in my daily life from now on!

  • Lindsay

    Hi from 2013 🙂

    I rarely comment on blogs but this whole post was so spot on
    I really needed this so it’s being bookmarked – thank you!

  • Edwin Heida

    Dear Christine,

    Thank you for this excellent blog. I read through it after having searched the web for ‘taking things too personal’ and it’s given me some food for thought!

  • Fiona Murray

    This is excellent! Thankyou! Just what I was looking for!
    Fi.

  • Hank

    I enjoyed reading this blog. I have a tendency to take things personally, and I expect others to do the same towards my actions. I really enjoyed the glimpse of what’s past that unpleasantness. <3

  • Andreas van Wyk

    The way you start your day defnitely sets the tone for the rest of the day. Couldn’t agree more on the nutrition side of things. Look after yourself and it’s easier to not take things personally.

  • DD

    I so enjoyed reading your wonderfully written article…..It simply made my (Mon)day!! Thank you tons for such a beautiful, useful, profound article. This article is going to be one of my ‘good friends’ from now! 🙂

  • Jazmen J.

    This was so wonderful and timely! Just what I needed at the office 😀

  • NorthAndover

    this is fantastic. i’m old and haven’t found a mentor and i’m sort of off the radar screen but find that the biggest thing in this/my life is “taking it personally”. Boy did i learn that. i’ve spent my whole life taking it personally and now it’s time (at this late stage) to get it! Thanks!

  • denise

    This is so true. I believe it is because we are self centered and not Christ centered. My mom has always said you think people are looking at you but really they are not paying attention to you as much as you are paying attention to you. thanks for the article it is very enlightening

  • Dialashop

    I sometimes find it hard not to take thins personally when you work with pushy / forceful people that are un-coperative and try to put you down with their smart comments. This has happen on many occasions and I have to convince myself these people are the problem.

  • Charles Mausser

    This is fantastic!!! Thank you!!!

  • AH

    Hello,

    I just ran into your blog and find it quite inspiring. thanks for your motivation and I’m hoping to go through your posts one by one when I get the time.

    Regards,
    AH

  • Beth

    This is the pick-me-up I needed for the day. Lately it feels like everyone, including myself, takes things too personally and fully believes in their thoughts, when the reality is so much more complicated. Maybe that clerk at the grocery store was having a bad day, maybe they’re tired of people being rude and are too drained to be kind in return. I’d rather use my brain power contemplating what I can do next to help myself, and help others. I will fail at times, sure, but we could all be a little less hard on ourselves.

    I’ve bookmarked this page. Thank you!

  • Natalia Siegert

    Loved the article! It really made sense, it was practical and not too preachy. It also used common sense in a way that isn’t always obvious to most people, including myself. Thanks for the article, I will definitely follow your posts more often!

  • Lin

    Love the article and everyone’s comments here

  • awayday

    Great blog and so helpful — thank you very much. Now bookmarked!

  • LaWana

    This article has helped me tremendously! After having a tough day at work (feeling belittled and wearing my heart on my sleeve) I was seeking advice on how to get rid of this demon of “taking things personally”. You said it best, “Who you become on your journey is far more meaningful than what happens to you.” and I will only get there if I learn to let things go!

    Thanks Again,
    LaWana

    • Romona

      I completely agree! Im a person who wears her heart on her sleeve and its hard not taking things personally. I also like that line about it doesnt matter of what happens externally ect. its about the journey. I wonder how can i wear my heart on my sleeve but not take things personally? I guess work is work.. Im that person that always goes the extra mile and I find that part gets abused and used in life.. my biggest thing is fear of rejection and not having confidence in myself.. once I can truly back myself up then thats when I feel I can accomplish anything.. the second some one puts me down I automatically become negative about myself and then I start putting myself down.. but I feel if I let everything go Ill lose a sense of myself if that makes anysense..

      • natalia

        perfect sense. if you have a vibrant, open, emotional nature in the workplace, it contrasts with the robots. I go back and forth between wishing to belong and become friends, showing too much, getting hurt, retreating, being seen as a quiet bitch, and back again. i hate it. But I guess it is the confidence factor. Who cares if certain people don’t mesh well with our way of being as long as one is true to oneself and good to others then it doesnt matter if not everyone approves of you. I have to work on my shielding so I don’t get hurt when I put myself out there, I don’t think retreating and becoming someone else is the answer.

  • RaeRae

    I needed this and im glad its the first one that popped out from my google search. Thank you 🙂 i have so much to work on, but im excited to get started.

  • Joelle Prochera

    Christine,

    What wonderful and insightful advice. This article will heal relationships and save many from being damaged thank you for sharing yourself so fully. (I totally appreciate the story with you and your friend anf the shopping incident) Courage in communication leads to greater harmony 99% of the time. Keep up the great work.

    Joelle

  • Anne

    Hi Christine,

    I just happened across this article when doing a google search, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that you were the author because I have heard you play (in Silver City, NM) and have “Four Legs, Good; Two Legs, Bad” (haha-funny song – love it!) and “Leap, and the Net Will Appear” on my iPod for spur-of-the-moment inspiration. Loved what you said, here, and will keep it handy as a very positive reminder of what really matters in life.

    Thanks!
    Anne

  • Create My Mind Movie

    This is a great post!

    It reminded me a saying I heard once along the lines of “All anybody is ever really saying is ‘please and thankyou’.

    I think it is healthy to keep this in mind with things that you can take personally. In today’s society, most people are absorbed in their problems and what is going on with them. If you can truly listen to what someone is saying whether than be coming from a place of anger and hurt – then you will be able to give them a gift rather than take it as a negative situation.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Rachel

      I found the part about collusion thought-provoking. I do think its an interesting point, however I’m not sure if I agree that collusion is such a bad thing. Some of the most toxic friendships I’ve had in my life had very strong elements of collusion, but some of the best friendships I’ve had always involved collusion too. People get together to bitch or rant about the negative aspects of their life – that’s also part of friendship I think. When people get together to confide and commiserate in each other’s problems, trying to find a connection somewhere, a kindred spirit, that can also be a helpful way of helping people reframe their experiences, think and discuss it through, and perhaps eventually find a way out of those problems. In the process they grow along the way, help each other along the way, and the friendship becomes so much more meaningful and the intimacy shared cannot be duplicated and actually creates a sweetness out of the relationship. I do not believe in avoidance of “negativity” and feel that a true and long-lasting friendship that will grow and last has to involve some collusion. However problems arise in a relationship when collusion becomes the main focus and yet there isn’t a sort of lightening up or a gradual transition to positivity and a desire to look beyond the negativity to some gem within the negative experiences. I’ve found that such relationships for me will eventually break down or become distant. Sometimes it was because the dynamics of that friendship or just the life circumstances of both parties at the time made it difficult for the negative bitching to diffuse and for more light to shine through the relationship. Some friendships of mine have lasted a long long time because of our ability to grow together through experiences good and bad, to learn from each other, to share, to collude, but also to give each other a break when needed and to come back together again at another time when things are better and we are at a better place and want to talk about positive things rather than the negative. Those friendships which didn’t manage to grow past the negative experiences into the good never really amounted to much. That said, a great friend, one whom you could talk to whenever you are down, when you need a moan, or when you’re happy, or excited, is worth its weight in gold. You can take things personally, roll with the ups and downs in life, and at the end of the day you know there is this person who will always be there for you.

  • hysteric robin

    my mother is – I’m quite sure – the most hysteric woman in the world. I do love her, but somethimes I wish I could take her by the shoulders, shake her, and scream STOP DRAMATISING! (If I would do this she probably react somewhat like “you don’t understand, why are you being so arrogant, you are becomming just like your father”, and not talk to me for several months) so I understand how taking things personally can really twists your perspective on the world, and how it dammages your relationships.
    I always said to myself “I love my mom, but I don’t wanna become like her”.
    Guess what, over time I’ve become my mothers twin sister without realising it… (giving myself a sarcastic tap on the shoulder while I’m writing this)
    I even take it as a personal insult when people say “don’t take it so personal”… way to go huh?
    I really wish I could say each time “just stop, breath, listen, and then react like a normal human being” … but I just can’t… I’m the MASTER of ‘calling up a friend and spening hours of energy’ on something like ‘my boss thinks I work too slow’.
    So I’m really eager to learn to stop my “taking-things-really-personal-to-a-skyrocking-level”

    I completely understand the steps you explain, and I take your word on it that it would make life easyer and especially ‘calmer’…
    But there is indeed one thing I keep asking myself… : if everybody in the world would stop taking things personal, and decide for themselves “I don’t take this criticism, I’m okay as I am” and therefor take everything unpersonal and in a not-affecting-me way…
    what kind of cold business world would we live in then?

  • Mysticcrayon

    So much of this really resonated with me, especially the bit about collusion being confused for friendship. Very very inspiring – I will be returning.

  • Gregory

    I am a person that tends to take things personally easily, but i can defenitely not agree with the advice written above. Furthermore, I feel completely misunderstood and hurt and will phone my friend to ventilate my feelings.

  • Lenzo

    Dear Patty,

    Self awareness which by definition means much of what you just described. I’ve taken things personally most of my life and it’s affected many of my relationships. When I stopped taking things so personally I felt better about myself and my life and relationships improved. Furthermore I don’t feel a nervous as I did when I took everything personally.

    However I really do understand what you are trying to say. You are obviously a person with a high emotional IQ.

    All The Best
    Lenzo – Len

  • Patty Thorsen

    Don’t take things personally??? Hmmmm….

    I am not sure that I agree….although I laughed aloud, when I read, “shut up and listen”
    [A friend gave me that advice, which I have heeded.]

    OK, not engaging in self-torture, and not becoming bitter about little things in daily life, OK, I can endorse–embrace–that wholeheartedly….

    But…

    Without taking things personally, there is no hope for insight, growth, or sensitivity….

    Without taking things personally, there is no hope of flourishing from “negative” experiences, or influences.

    Now, taking things personally may not be comforting, at first.

    But….

    It seems to me that the very core of living–breathing–demands “taking things personally,” inhaling the world around us….inhaling all of the lessons available to us to live more fully…more authentically.

    Many times I have learned from–been given insight regarding–experiences and comments that others lovingly advised me not to take personally. By negative experiences and comments, I am referring to those in my life that have been related to disabilities over which I have no control to change. Ignorance of others is not an excuse to make. To do so is to miss the opportunity to nurture positive attitudes and deeper understanding between each of us as human beings.

    I will reread this, and try to apply it.

    In my humble opinion, we need to engage in more “taking things personally,” not less.

    • Rachel

      What you’ve said struck a chord in me. Especially the part about how taking things personally enables one to live more honestly, more genuinely. More authentically, as you mentioned. Its especially important if one aspires to be as true to oneself as one can be – not everyone has this aspiration. Some of the fakest people I’ve met are the ones who aren’t bothered with honesty – in fact, they hanker after material wealth and worldly success, and will do anything to achieve that; sod the honesty. I’ve found that the best lessons in life for me were always the times when I actually took things personally. Actually, I didn’t have much of a choice – the situation affected me so much so that to deny those feelings made things worse – the thinking became more intense, the feelings too. But those were the times when I actually “grew” or “progressed” onto a more evolved me. Then again, I’ve always been a bit more sensitive than many others, always felt things very intensely, and that is sort of like the fuel that drives me to improve myself, to live my life as fully as possible. It can also be a double-edged sword. Fear can cripple… and times when I’ve felt intense fear were some of the most traumatic times in my life, the ones which bring me the worst memories. Now to say “don’t take things personally” to me feels a bit like a denial of one’s feelings. I’m not sure if denial is ever a good thing. I don’t really think it is.

    • Melissa

      I loved what you wrote. I have always been someone who “took things personally” and been criticized for this many times. I have read and soul searched and tried to figure out how NOT to do this to no avail.

      Thank you for saying what you said about honesty and authenticity. Ironically as much as I take things personally I’ve always had a very good sense of humor and many people throughout my life have told me this. I’ve always been able to make people laugh. That being said; I think that my sensitivity and humor go hand in hand and if I was not so sensitive perhaps I wouldn’t be so funny. Does that make sense?

      I could TRY not to take things personally but how else can i view them? The thing that’s hard for me is because i’m a fairly humorous person this also makes me a target. People WANT to joke with me and think I’m impervious to their jokes (which often times I find are not only not funny but hurtful). Just yesterday my boss asked me my opinion about something and I answered. He then went on to poke fun at me in front of others (totally unsolicited) and this hurt but I said nothing. Just a few minutes later he made a similar joke. I finally defended myself and said “boy you really have a high opinion of me, don’t you”? I know he felt bad. Later on that day he said something very kind showing his regret.

      I don’t know. I think it’s a fine line. There IS so much inauthenticity out there that maybe it’s a balancing act. It’s not that we should try and force ourselves to deny our impulses. Hey somethings its NOT personal, and other times it IS . So shouldn’t we not try and override our own system? Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference and like the woman who was to meet the friend at the hotel it was good that she called back rather than write her own conclusion and internalize it. But even THAT scenario bugs me a little because if her friend was REALLY sensitive or more honest she herself could have offered this up rather than just saying “hey I’m gonna hang in my room while you go shop” because she could have have thought how her friend might have easily misinterpreted this. I don’t know. sometimes I feel I’d do anything to be LESS sensitive and other times I feel it’s a gift from God.

      • theodora

        I can relate to the article and the comments above, but what Melissa said explained perfectly what’s going on with me too: because I make jokes all the time and enjoy making people laugh, they tend to think that Im not gonna get hurt by something they say, or that they can say anything to me with the excuse of “just kidding” and it will be ok..But my main issue about it (thanx melissa for helping me clear it out in my head!), is that the person who does this the most to me, and also hurts me the most when doing it, is my mother! Im 33 and I know I shouldnt be mentioning anything about my mother and she shouldnt have such an impact on me STILL, but it does and I know its lame..And its also scary cause we all know we’re gonna become our mothers, so Im terrified Im actually doing this too! Any thoughts are welcome :))

    • Beth

      I really like your post.

      It’s refreshing to see a different take on the issue, especially because it’s so insightful. If we didn’t take things personally, it would be difficult to find an impetus to do better in our lives in many ways.

      One thing I would say is there is I wonder if there is a difference between embracing our experiences, and over-analyzing a person’s actions or reactions toward us. Giving anyone whom we don’t know well, or who doesn’t know us well, too much validity seems silly, since the reality of the world is much more complicated.

      I wish more people spent time and effort thinking about these things – we could all be a little nicer to ourselves and others 🙂

  • Courtney – Meylah

    This article really resonated with me. Lately I’ve been working on my communication skills. I think I’m too passive sometimes, so I’ve been trying to force myself to speak up if I’m in disagreement with others or at least vocalize my opinions more. It has been amazing and I really feel like it’s strengthening my relationships in whole new ways. Also, I love your recommendation to create a good mojo file. That is a brilliant idea & a great resource for when you need a little pick me up. Love it!

  • Meredith Terpeluk

    Love this. It’s exactly what I needed to take the next step in my work…and reinstates everything I know I need. This is a keeper!

  • Nithya

    SWSWSWSW…

    Dear Christine,

    I must say its a great blog.. as i was seeking for different peoples approach to the problem I face, I came across ur blog.

    I must say thank you.. its like u started a sentence/a thought for me..and I found my answer.. I have jotted it down for you below

    Some will, some won’t, so what?, someone’s waiting as that is none but you. 🙂

    Love
    Nithya

  • KT

    This article really resonated with me. Thanks so much for your inspiration.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Lisa

    I just ran across this…wow so good. I wish I had read this before last weekend. Ended up in a huge argument with some friends that all revolved around miscommunication. Unfortunatly, it has not ended well. If I could just not take things so personaly. I always need the approval of others so it is hard.

  • Nikki

    Ive just read this and its really made me think..I often take things personaly.Get really upset..end up in tears..hurt etc.. and have just realised why..Im always looking for love and am in need of constant cuddles…when people arnt loving toward me im so upset..I think this is because my mum died a few years ago..My brither has mental illness and my dad rearly visits me..so i need so much love i feel i dont get..I find it so hard to be objective as inside im in need of so much love..My boyfriend is ok….where can you get cuddles and love from??? Family ? I dont have that? Friends? Not often..I dont know..so ill continue on this taking things personaly until my reality changes..( My confession )

  • Brenda Pinnick

    Great post, Christine. Thank you so much for reminding us “it’s not me”. I love the idea of a mojo file for those times when we’re feeling less than worthy. I’m putting mine together tonight and starting the day with it tomorrow instead of reading emails and internet news first thing. I’m planning on a fantastic day tomorrow!
    Thank you again.

  • Sue Sullivan

    Christine, I’m sooooooo glad I ran into your blog. It’s exactly what I’m needing to hear. We built a house we’re really happy with. Recently, we’ve had a couple people see the house and not respond the way we had wished. Your SWSWSWSW totally hit the spot! Also, the Mojo File. Our house was in a home tour, and we had tons of people rave about it. Plus, I want to be authentically me…which means I want to create what reflects me rather than try and create what I think others want.

  • Kristine

    Truly one of the best blog posts I have ever read. Kudos!

  • donna

    Hi Christine,

    I have a bit of trouble fully digesting your article… Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like great advice. However, I think that when it comes to taking things personally, it gets more complicated than how you’ve made it appear. It’s actually harder for SOME people not to take things personally than others… especially when it’s something so “personal.” Allow me to explain.

    I believe that in my own case, I take things WAY more personally than most other people would. I’ve tried to understand why I do this, and recently I think I’ve figured it out. Now this might sound weird/strange or irrelevant, *especially* if you can’t relate to what I’m about to say, but here it goes… Throughout my life, family-friends (i.e. friends of my parents and their children) have made it clear that I’m different from them. All because of the shallowest and most superficial thing imaginable…my skin tone. “Why are you so dark?” they’d ask when I was little. Even though I was little, I still remember them poking fun because it was so hurtful. Even till this very day, they tell me I look like an “indian,” as if somehow that’s inferior.

    Well now that I’m fully grown, the idea that I will be treated and seen differently because I’m “not white” is still subconsciously present. And so when someone treats me poorly in a face-to-face interaction, *especially* when I’ve been incredibly kind/nice to them, I can’t help but wonder… I take it extremely personally, which may be irrational and far from “the truth,” but it’s VERY hard for me not to. I’m not sure if I’m the only “coloured” person who’s felt this way, but I do think it’s linked to my past.

    And what makes it even more difficult is that, even if I want to NOT take things so personally, I still I can’t help but think that what if Mr. X who treats me poorly really IS doing so because of the way I look? In that case, I would feel like a fool if I *didn’t* take it personally, because it *is* personal!

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s just harder for some… In my case, even if I try not to take things personally, the question still remains at the back of my mind…

  • BiblioMom

    I really needed this today. I was struggling with a co-worker and I was taking the whole thing personally when I’m sure I shouldn’t. I’m going to print this up and post it next to my desk!

  • Caren

    {deep breath}

    Thanks for this. Last year, I led some drum circles at a cancer survivors camp. It went beautifully, the organizers praised the drumming, many attendees said that was their favorite part. I connected with a couple of the survivors, and saw them earlier this summer. They both said: We can’t wait for your drumming at the camp!

    I just got an e-mail that someone had sent out saying, “This weekend is the cancer survivors camp! If you have any drums we can borrow, let us know!” Uhhh… what?

    And, yep, the organizers of the camp picked someone else to come out this year! I’m just all teary and I *am* taking it personally! Then I remembered this article. It’s helping. I’m not at peace yet. It’s a different style of drumming, they do Native American, mine is more open. But my feelings are really hurt!

    And, oops, before I read this, I called the organizer and left a voicemail. Not whiny, but more along the lines of – Was it something I said? Because I was *so* looking forward to it!

    Ah, well – live and learn. Wahhh… (Yep, I’m a 4)

  • Jennie Lin

    Thanks so much. It’s the day my boss is reviewing my Action Plan for better performance at my corporate job. My boss and I don’t see eye-to-eye, and I’m already feeling my resistence building up and it’s only 7:30 a.m. (Meeting’s at 9.) I’ll be sure to be listening this morning instead of blocking.

  • Christa

    Christine,
    Thank you!!! You are a true blessing and your messages are wonderful… I hope I get to meet you someday!
    Christa

  • Christine Kane

    thanks leeta!

  • Leeta

    Absolutely brilliant! Your words here have been most helpful to me.

  • Jeanie

    Wow. With tears in my eyes from taking something someone said personally, I googled “how not go take things personally” and this came up. It’s an issue I battle with daily. Your suggestions are spot on. And your description of modern day friendships is profound. Thank you.

  • Christine Kane

    Hello All – I’ve gotten behind on comments because I had two big presentations this past week – and I want to respond to everyone. But I think that would take up a huge amount of space here. So, just know that I’ve read all the comments and I’ll respond to those folks with direct questions now…

    Lola – I’ll go check out the “tag.” I have a retreat this week – so my posts might continue to be a little sparse. (When my schedule is busy – my blogging gets light!) Thanks though!

    Elizabeth – i love that story about the flowers. eckhart tolle said in one talk that a rose doesn’t wake up and criticize itself for not being like a daisy. nor does it say, “oh god, another day.” it just unfolds. i always think of that.

    Hello Katherine – thanks for the note. unfortunately, I don’t have tablature or chords written down for my songs. i did that backstage DVD for those people who asked. i apologize if it’s too complicated! if there’s a particular song you want to know about, you can email me and i’ll try to give you the basics!

  • Katherine

    So please do not take this personally. this is wonderful information. however, I am looking for something even more practical which i just discovered I requested in an archive dated back in 2006…fat chance you may be reading that? i am very new to blogs, fumbling my way through many befriending thoughts that you share…Law-of- attraction-ly just the right thing I needed to read. so, I am humbling myself to ask again…is it at all possible to get chords to your songs? It is the only way I seem to be able to play my guitar and sing. Tabs and your lovey backstage dvd go right over my head. real simple is fune by me. thanks, Katherine

  • Andrea Hess|Empowered Soul

    Great article, Christine! Just goes to show how we create our own reality – we can choose the story to be the most uplifting, positive one we can imagine. Or we can create ourselves as the victim, the misunderstood, the neglected.

    In the end, whatever story we create reflects how we perceive ourselves. If our story is of rejection (by others), most likely there is a piece of us that we ourselves are rejecting. If our story is one of celebration, we are celebrating ourselves. Either way – we get to choose!

    Blessings,
    Andrea

  • Elizabeth

    Hey Christine,
    This reminded me of band concerts in high school. I played the clarinet in a very tiny band so I had many solos. I was always worried about messing up and ruining the whole concert for everyone (I’m a bit of a drama queen). Well, one spring, right before a concert, I was looking around at all the flowers that had just bloomed or were about to. And I thought, if a flower was too afraid to blossom because of what the other flowers may think of it, then there would be many flowers that we couldn’t enjoy. So now anytime I pick up my clarinet or guitar, I try not to worry about what others think so I can feel free to blossom and if my audience hates, so what? But if they love it, it’s worth it.

  • Tejvan Pettinger

    It’s good advice. If you don’t give too much importance to your ego, it’s easier to implement these suggestions.

    Nice site btw

  • Lola Fayemi

    Hey Christine

    You’ve been tagged for the “What gives you courage?” meme. Hope you can play.

    http://www.lolafayemi.com/index.php/2007/10/05/what-gives-you-courage/#more-59

    In love, light and abundance x x x

  • Carma

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.”

    Do you remember that? Taking things personally is a childish act and it is during our childhood days where we begin to learn how not to take things personally and how to react constructively. But I feel that no one is 100% teflon.

    Thanks for this post. An organization I used to work for would tell the employees that when someone appears to reject your offers, just say thank you and do like they do in a doctor’s office. Open the door and say “Next.” This is a great mental exercise.

  • Christina DiAngelus

    Where was this blog 2 summers ago?

    It took me practically 30 years — and a lot of time, space and perspective – to realize I took everything personally. Moreover, I internalized every upsetting and unfavorable situation. The topper was my ability to put the highest most unrealistic expectations on myself and everyone around me.

    It’s so wonderful to enter a new decade more self aware with inner demons in check. It still takes a conscious effort on my part to step back and ask myself if I’m reacting too emotionally, personally or investing too much time and energy in a person/place/thing when I should let it go and move on, but I’ve made big time progress. High fives all around. Good for me!!

  • Tim Draayer

    Heya Christine!

    I really like number nine! Sometimes its really easy to take offense to something someone has said to you. When things like this happen we often have conversations with ourselves, talking that person down.

    In effect, we are trying to talk ourselves into believing that we actually are right and the person who offended our senses is wrong.

    When we do this its often a very good indication that we need to shut up, listen to what the person is actually saying and actually take it to heart. We often hear what we want to hear and disregard the true message and thats a mistake.

  • Colleen

    Thanks Chirstine!
    Taking things personally is so sneaky–like I know I shouldn’t take things personally but I still do and I am draining lots of good energy without really knowing it. Your swswswsw and the list thing, and the reminder of being centered in yourself when starting the day instead of the externals driving you is very helpful.

  • Lee Stranahan

    I found this post through Phil Gerbyshak’s Make It Great blog – and wow, what a really great post. I’m going to go through your whole site later today and do a post about it on my blog after I’ve had time to process it. My first impression is that your whole site looks very professional and seems to have a ton of great content.

    Not taking things personally is obviously a good lesson for everyone, but your approach to the subject as an artist really drew me in. The swswswsw thing is something I’ve been struggling with personally for a long time. I made a feature film about 10 years ago – a full length, 35mm movie that I wrote, produced and directed. It’s the kind of thing most people dream about, really…but I got so intimidated by my fear of criticism that I let the film wither and die after completing it. Now, I’m working at bringing the film back to life on my site BreathingRoomMovie.com but I’m still dealing with the same fears. It’s a fine line between wanting to improve something and just letting it get out there. I think of the six years it took Lucinda Williams to finish Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. In her case, it paid off.

  • Christine Kane

    Holly – that’s a case of swswswsw. just keep going. the game is great! you’ll sell it just fine. (and the truth is that any retail outlet would be sort of taking a chance on you – so maybe find some original ways to make it more appealing to them..?) thanks for sharing all that!

    hi brad – (i’d be interested to know your number on the enneagram – 4???) what a great way to approach your children. and it relates so well to this post. thanks!

  • Brad

    I just want to chime in once more on this topic. I was blessed with an over-active self-awareness! This means that I am usually the first one to notice my own mischief. And I try to be very honest with my self-evaluation so I can move forward and grow from my experiences. Having said that…I can say from personal experience that Christine is right on the money with this blog post!!! You know what they say about “assuming”. That is what I tend to do when I take things personally. I assume and superimpose my perceptions onto another person. Then act in self-destructive ways because of those assumptions. Christine clearly says to check things out. Ask instead of assume. That’s just respectful anyway. Unfortunately I don’t do that all the time with my kids. It’s very easy to take our children’s behavior personally. So I tell them what they did wrong, how they should feel about it, and what they should do to correct it…completely stripping them of their dignity. A better way to approach this would be to ask them what happened, ask them how they feel about it, and invite them to come up with a solution. If I can separate my self-worth from their actions and allow them to learn and grow from their mistakes, we would all be a lot happier. Thanks for the reminder Christine!

    Just my two cents!

  • Holly

    Hi Christine,
    Every time I read one of your blogs…..it speaks to me!
    I have been singing jazz/classic standards in small venues for almost two years now. One of those things where I didn’t sing for 20 years, so I am still in awe that anyone would PAY me?!! The blog on performing INSTANTLY changed my way of thinking. Also, the lesson on coming to terms that you are worth it was great!
    Love the tips on not taking rejection personally. It is so hard to do. I love the line that “somewhere out there,someone is waiting for your gift”.That is a great one to pass on to the kids.
    I know you and my husband David have traded e-mail about our “Gab to Go” game. The cups have finally rolled off the assembly line! I am trying to “learn” how to be a salesperson and get out there and get it in some places. I took a sample in to a very cute, fun gift shop in Raleigh last week and they loved it and agreed to carry it there. I thought “I can do this”! By the time I got back home, I had a message that they had changed their minds. A big sales rep that they work with came in right after me and they spent too much $$$. I have wanted to crawl in a hole ever since….so THANKS for the advice!
    I am very curious about Branson! I hope you decided to go there!!

  • Christine Kane

    elaine1 – thanks for your thoughts. colluding will often drain you and make you “feel bad” as you wrote – but guilt is just one more thing that keeps it going. that’s the pattern. choosing not to collude is actually something you do for yourself in addition to being for the other person. so try to just notice that ‘feeling bad’ energy and let it pass – while making the decision to see the temptation coming on next time.

    brad – indeed you should! 🙂

    hi kathy – given that family is our primary relationship – it makes sense that the biggest triggers would happen among those people… and it can be a great lesson to just watch yourself in those situations. set the intent before the next family gathering to really observe your own insides. “ah, yes, here i go feeling judgment, and here comes resentful me, and hmmm, there’s my temptation to puff up”…etc etc. it can be a great way to remain clear and centered, and eventually just be present to each person there.

    alan – no, you didn’t get that right. what i wrote was that in our culture, it is often acceptable that friendship is about sharing the same dislikes, rather than holding each other up to higher standards. my best friends and i rarely talk about other people – unless it is to let the other know that we were triggered by something and wish to shift that. And i’m not sure we’re coming from the same place in defining what “taking things personally” means. It’s not about spending time with people who upset you just so you can say “i don’t take things personally.” It’s about recognizing where you lose your power and clarity in a situation. So, from that place, I don’t believe it serves anyone to take things personally.

  • Alan

    Oh and also if I might add, I believe that you SHOULD take things personally.
    Yes you can be comprehensive, you can try to think twice before over-reacting, and you shouldn’t believe that everything in the world turns around you, but forcing yourself not to take things personally is frustrating, as it means you had some feeling at first and you restrained them.
    On the long run, it can make you feel sick inside, imagine about the story of your friend, if the truth is that she didn’t care to spend some time with you and just imagined an excuse when saying she wanted to give you space. Imagine it happens again another time you see her, different excuse, same thing. And again. And again. Yes you shouldn’t be friend with her, you should get mad and spend your time on real friends, but no, you will say “I don’t take it personally”and still waste your time for someone who doesn’t want your friendship.
    Please take no offence, because no offence is meant in my message, but we as human are living to have feelings, stories, experiences, good or bad, and not taking things personally is liking forcing you to step back from this, but hey, that’s your life! It might hurt sometimes, but that’s not a reason to step back from it.

  • Alan

    Hi Christine
    You wrote:
    “That’s because much of what we call friendship in our culture is little more than disliking the same people and staying stuck in our own versions of the truth and requiring that our friends agree with us.”

    Did I get it right? Friendship is for you being with people because you both hate the same others? If so, it is scary! Yes you can feel closer to people because you hate the same things (like with your colleague, both of you hating the boss), but friendship is about sharing. you’re friend with someone because you have something in common with him, most of the time you can not say what, but there’s something in both of your personalities that make you feel good. And that’s what makes a best friend: Someone with who you can share everything.

  • Kathy

    Once again, hitting the nail on the head with this post!!! I am sitting here with my sister Cindy and read this to her. We spent a weekend with sisters, aunts and cousins down in Virginia Beach and all the bad things you describe above happened. We decided we are going to send links to this blog to all the people we were with. You have a way of putting things so eloquently and in a way that doesn’t sound like an attack. Thanks so much for being so poignant and to the point in a way that really hits home. Meer!!!

  • Brad

    So if I’m critical of myself…I should take that personally? 😉

    Sorry, it helps if I can laugh at my neurosis! But I do notice that the more judgmental I am, the more I take things personally. There’s some profound truth to “Judge not and ye will not be judged”

  • elaine1

    Great Post Christine – so well written. I’m that computer person… straight on (breakfast later)and I’ve already taken one thing personally already today. E mail tends to suck me in and before I know it half the day has gone (probably guilty of attention splatter too!). I wish I’d read your post before taking things personally today.

    I have experienced colluding recently too and felt very bad about it afterwards.. It’s easy to blame others and get wrapped up in self-victimisation, especially if you can find a listening ear!! I’m getting better at not doing this but it’s still a work in progress, as you say especially when you’re tired. I also have mind reading as my ‘thinking error’ and this doesn’t help under times of stress and pressure as I think I know what other people are thinking and doing (when it’s not the case!)

    This post has helped me already – Thank you! 🙂

  • Christine Kane

    thanks jules —

    and brad – i’ve been known to say that life is high school, and then getting over it. but i don’t feel like that as much anymore! still, what you wrote is funny! and you know, i don’t think it really IS ever personal… even criticism is about the critic and not the person being criticized. it always feels personal — but at the very deepest level, it’s just not.

    hey katherine – being busy is another one of those distractions that can throw us into our “taking things personally” space. glad you catch yourself!

  • Katherine

    Oh Christine, thanks again. It’s the “story I tell myself” that gets me every time. I have lived longer than some so I label myself “old and tired.” When I get so busy I forget to do that, I notice I’m not old and tired at all!

    You’re the best.

  • Brad

    Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if we could have all just skipped Junior High???

    I especially like #1…because let’s face it, sometimes it is personal. But being independent of the good opinion of others can be liberating!

  • Jules

    “Being centered and grounded while knowing that only you can dictate whether or not you’re on track or whether or not you’re successful is a reward in and of itself.”

    Words to live by, and I strive for this daily.

    Great article, and well written.

  • Christine Kane

    anais – i have to be careful about that morning thing too. it’s just so easy to rush right onto the computer!

    laura – lots of my songwriter friends do the good mojo thing! they swear by them! thanks for the note!

    thanks weezie and mk and dawn!

    hi r.m. – yea, it’s like the success gurus who tell you that if you’re jealous of another’s success then you’ll never have success of your own – and you sit there and think, “uh-oh!” really, those emotions can teach you so much if you take that “should” stuff off of them.

    thanks joanna and jenny – um… gotta carve out time to write that book! 🙂

  • Jenny

    Wonderful and wise, as always. Still waiting on that book!

  • Joanna Young

    I love this piece Christine, thank you. The combination of practical suggestions on how to do it together with the final paragraph on finding your unshakeable self – well it was quite something.

    Joanna

  • R.M. Koske

    I ran into that Eleanor Roosevelt quotation for the first time when I was thirteen or so., I fully believe it is true, but I’ve never, ever figured out how to withhold that consent. People made (and still make) me feel inferior all the time.

    My mother would say, “Why do you care what they think?” and my answer was “Apparently I’m stupid, because I can’t stop!”

    No one has ever told me HOW to do this, only that I SHOULD. I’m sure that it takes time, and practice, and effort, but this is at least something I can build on.

    Thank you.

  • Dawn

    I think in this hurry up and live world we live in – we just automatically assume things and do not allow ourselves the time to process, to feel and breathe….and we are so out of touch with our true inner being…. Over the years I seemed to have just been here on the surface – just living – but not truly living – not knowing me. Weird really, now when I think of it and look back – how could I possibly have been living so surfacely (is that even a word?) all those years. Anyway – great blog – thank you for taking the time to write, share and care!
    dawn

  • MK

    Rock on CK!!!

  • weezie

    oh, if only i had have read this gem BEFORE the weekend started!…..this reminder could have saved me a lot of grief and sparring…….”swswswsw” will tuck away nicely beside my “you can be right or you can be free” mantra i picked up years ago from ram dass……as always, christine, i am grateful for the wisdom you are discovering on your own deepening journey and the calling to share your work…..i don’t take the time to tell you often enough……but you are truly one of my heros
    much love,
    wz

  • Laura West

    Hi Christine,
    What a on-target, practical and yet spiritual list for our daily lives. Managing our energy, thoughts, beliefs and therefore, confidence can make all the difference in our day and is probably one of the most important items on our “to-do” list!

    I’ve always kept a “feel good” file – I really like the name “Good Mojo”!

    Thank you for a great list of reminders. You have a wonderful writing style that makes the recommendations seem like warm hugs!

    Laura West

  • Anais

    Beautifully written, well constructed article. Thank you so much for writing it. I loved the part about having some quiet time before going straight online to check out the news or email. I’m going to adopt that one, as it’s something my inner voice has been telling me for some time now anyway.

  • Christine Kane

    thanks leslie!

    and barb – when your entire internal dialogue is a running commentary of taking things personally, then I’d begin first with a positive intent and awareness, and then allow time to show you the way. it might be uncomfortable. i’ve been there, and i understand. also, meditation and quieting of the mind. what you’re experiencing is just years of habit! and really, it’s great that you can recognize the temptations to act in a “passive/agressive” way. that’s the starting point. it’s just uncomfortable to see clearly what goes on inside your own head sometimes. (i was just telling someone about my own mind-yammerings yesterday – and how uncomfortable it was to be aware of these thoughts I was having!)

  • barb b

    timely for me. but this entry could be my daily internal communication at work. it is hard for me to keep going when every day, I feel (or allow myself to feel) slapped down. anyway, I should print this off and carry it with me. Actually, i should print off about every blog but then i’d have to have a cart.:) I have to stop myself from real passive/aggressive action by not emailing the blog on “teaching people how to treat you” to about a million folks (really 3). thanks for your posts, keeps me going. barb b

  • Leslie

    You are brilliant! Your words often feel very peaceful and calming to me. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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