One of the more recent speeches I presented was about how to not take things personally. I had watched many Ted Talks, took in and applied what I learned, and with time, began to put that information to practice. This is what I've gathered:
How many times have you been driving, and someone is too close to you, and it makes you feel like they are on to you. Or if a friend cancels plans on you last minute, you may feel less important. Or even better, as I give my speeches, if I see somebody not paying attention to me while speaking- I may feel less respected or valued.
Why do we feel these feelings? We automatically go right to the other person looking for blame instead of within ourselves, by saying, “It’s the other persons fault and they are responsible for how we feel.”
What part of us is speaking? Our ego. Because we automatically associate somebody else's behavior with our immediate feelings. In other words, our ego tells us that others should take us into consideration. This is because our ego does not want to be criticized or wrong, because again that would make us feel less than.
The problem with ego is that it always demands to be right or to look good, and that within itself is just exhausting. Trying to constantly prove your side is right, prove yourself to others, or trying to “win” an argument, is the closest thing to energy draining in my opinion.
What do you gain from practicing not taking things personally? You allow for nobody to have the power over you emotionally. You can live in more harmony and connection with others. That once used energy for proving yourself or worrying can be put to other good such as friendships, deeper relationships, or just more of an overall good feeling.
First, it is important to realize that- it is not about me. An example of this I gave in my speech was: “I put time and energy into this speech, and I may feel disrespected if somebody is looking down at their phone or not paying attention.” Luckly, I do not feel that like I might've used to feel in the past. But, after saying that, I stated how you must constantly look at it from the other perspective. Maybe, somebody truly just did not find what I was saying interesting? Maybe they were looking down at their phone because they had a really important email or text message they were waiting for weeks for? Or even better, maybe an individual really enjoyed what I was saying so much so that they wanted to write it down in their phone? To that I never have a clue, but I realize- it is not always about me and I cannot change or control the way people act or behave. And just like that, I could give a speech and have half the people looking down, yet I do not take it personally.
Second, we need to shift our focus over from me to we. If we focus on the viewpoint of the other or the other’s intention- we make space for understanding instead of irritation (in most cases). One important rule I live by is that everything people say or do has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. The way people speak or behave is solely from them and their perspective. People do not intentionally do seemingly hurtful things to you without coming from a place of hurt or other. The only time it is about you is if you happen to take the comment personal, because then you need to look inside and realize that is something you may have an insecurity with or have not yet come to terms with. Typically, this stems from childhood.
I said to my audience, “You are all an orange.” They all just looked at me blankly. Surprise! Nobody took it personal because they knew they were not an orange- unless you are a ginger like me.
If you think about the examples I listed, like a car following you too close and you feel almost trapped. Maybe that person was just having a bad day, or maybe they were late to work. How many times has that been you? What about a friend canceling plans last minute- surely that has happened to everyone. But think about it from their perspective, what if they had a lot of homework come up or an important opportunity to attend to? Life happens. It would be unfair as a human to ask for grace from others without being able to grant grace to others in situations like this. Even when people do not pay attention when I am speaking, I realize it is not the end of the world and we are all human with our own separate lives going on.
It is shocking when you realize that us as human beings have around 50,000 thoughts a day, yet only 10,000 of them are positive. That means 80% of our daily thoughts are negative. This just goes to show how becoming a positive person consistently and not taking things personally, is simply hard work. You do not wake up each day saying, “I am going to be positive.” That is not how life works. You have to take it day by day and fight every negative thought with a positive one. Give your negative voice a name, then tell it to shut up.
Seeing the positive intention of others takes a lot of effort and time but with time, practice, and patience with yourself, you are able to grant yourself so much more peace. Even better, you are able to learn to give yourself and others grace.
originally published in Grace by Jenna
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