Tag Archives: advice

Don’t Take Stuff Personally

Yeah, yeah.

People will say stuff to us that gets under our skin, or they might just do something that irritates us. And when we get irritated, a lot of crappy things happen.

When we get irritated, we’re more likely to do things we otherwise wouldn’t do. We might say things to hurt people, lose our ability to focus on the task at hand, or do something stupid. But more importantly, when we lose our cool, we are actually letting something else affect us. We are losing our power because something distracted us and swayed us in a direction we did not intend to head. Staying calm and handling things with a level head is not only good for our daily work but also prevents us from hurting our loved ones. Have you noticed the wiser the person, the less they lose their cool?

I’ve seen that the #1 reason someone loses their cool is that they take something personally. To take something personally, our ego must be at play. Think about it (and we all ‘love’ people with huge egos). Let’s look at some more specific reasons to not take things personally:

INSULTS

If somebody says something with the intention of hurting/affecting you, they are really projecting their own issues. It actually has nothing to do with you. A person who walks around calling people’s faults for enjoyment is suffering their own issue. A happy person doesn’t do that. So when someone tries to bring you down, a progressive approach might be to be concerned with why they feel the need to attack their fellow humans. To take their word seriously and get brought down prevents growth for both parties. It’s really an opportunity to help.

If somebody does or says something (/to you) unknowingly or unintentionally that could be offensive, they were acting in ignorance. And unless you’ve experienced nirvana, you suffer ignorance as well and it should be forgiven. A more appropriate action would be to fill that person in for their own benefit. To get angry because a child commented on your blubber really is a losing strategy. Let the child know they could hurt someone’s feelings.

All reasons I could give really derive from the concept that a statement or action cannot be separated from its source. When you take away the scissors from your 3-year-old and he says “I hate you mommy,” you may not like his choice of words but you know that he is unaware of his actions. You know better, and you certainly don’t get mad at him at tell him “go feed yourself you little brat!” and storm off into your room because of what he said to you. The source must be considered in every statement. Anytime someone says something that could be offensive, the source is either trying to hurt you or is ignorant–neither of which call for taking the comment personally.

The only way that you can be insulted by someone is if you believe the insult to be true. If someone tried to insult me by calling me “gay,” they would fail, because it’s clear to me that I’m heterosexual. If someone called a girl a “bitch,” and she had just been dumped by her boyfriend because he claimed she was a bitch, she might be insulted. “Maybe I really am a bitch! Ouch!” This is where being secure in yourself comes in. Insecurity is your ego feeling incomplete and just waiting to take anything and everything personally.

Compliments, too

There is also reason to not take compliments personally. This one is a bit more of a stretch for most people, but we can start with a simple example. Suppose someone says “you’re so good-looking!” If you take that comment personally, you will eventually get an inflated ego. You aren’t your looks; you didn’t create them or choose them. You could recognize that the person is in fact complimenting your genetics.

But what if they complimented my outfit? I put that together! Me me me me me!

You still can’t remove your physical body from the outfit. But who gave you your sense of style? Style is not created, it’s stolen piece by piece from things you have seen in the past. If someone compliments your intelligence,  patience, or even the way you handled a situation, can you take full credit? Pass the credit along to your teachers, mentors, experiences, and education and keep moving forward. I suppose if you’re feeling down about yourself you can tap into it to boost yourself up, but come on now. The result of this mentality is humility and un-messable-with status. Those are great things. Hubris always kills the main character. Think about it: someone can be so good-looking and amazing, but the second you hear them being conceited, all attraction is lost, no? Why is it that the people we respect the most are totally humble?

When you take something personally, it’s a lose-lose. Nothing is totally your fault or totally to your credit. Practicing removing yourself from the situation helps to both keep you on track and to not get too caught up in yourself.

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But You’re Not Me

Does anyone have the same birthday as you? The same time of birth?

Do they have the same parents as you? With all the same lessons and style of upbringing?

Do they have the same set of friends as you? Down to duplicate Facebook friends list, down to literally identical experiences with those friends from trials, tribulations, arguments, jokes, long talks?

Does anyone have the same set of mentors and schooling as you? Did they pay attention to exactly what you paid attention to, found the exact same stuff interesting, and worked the same amount of time as you?

Does anyone want exactly what you want for yourself? For the world?

Do they have the exact same work experience, with the same boss, coworkers, events, ups and down?

Do they agree with you 100% on what is right and wrong? Do they agree with you on whether Tupac is dead or alive?

And do they see the purpose of life the same way you see it? Have they determined what they are doing here on Earth to be exactly the same thing as what you’re doing here?

Have they suffered the same failures at the same times as you, and gotten the exact same identical lessons from those failures?

Have they gone through the same hardships as you? Experienced the same luxuries?

Do they have the same aspirations?

Do they have the exact same genetic make up (rhetorical), with the same tendencies and preferences for certain types of reactions, behavior, and likes/dislikes?

Do they have the same Nature+Nurture as you?

So how much sense does it make to ask advice? “If I were you, I would x y z x y z ….” But you’re not me. Did they answer yes to all the questions above? Each individual situation is so mind-blowingly, astronomically unique that advice truly makes no sense. It leads us to believe that there is some common place we are all trying to get to, and not to believe that the goal is the path itself–the decisions we make for ourselves and the learning and living process that comes along with it. Whether our decisions turn out “good” or “bad” is irrelevant when it comes to our personal growth.

Imagine if you never made a decision, and every single thing you did in life was directed by the advice of someone who you really admired. What would your last few moments of life feel like? I suspect you would have a lot of painful curiosity.

“People ask advice when they know what they need to do but just don’t want to do it.” Maybe every time we ask for advice, we really know the answer but we are fighting our internal compass. Why don’t we trust what we would do without advice? What is the value of trusting one’s self?

To give advice without being asked for it is to assume you know what lies both ahead and behind another person. It is to attempt to rob their life of making their own decisions. If they ask you for advice, perhaps you can offer it but we all owe it to our fellow humans to remind them that our decisions are not applicable to their lives.

Friends Cry to Friends

It’s a simple message sometimes tragically forgotten.

The last time a friend came to cry on my shoulder, I felt honored and realized it was a blessing to be able to provide comfort. When I went to my cousin with my own worries and tears, she told me that it made her feel like I “trusted her, valued her advice, and felt close to her.” It is a testament of friendship when a friend comes to you with their problems. Some forget that it is also a testament of friendship when we go to a friend with our problems. 

I don’t want to be a complainer and dump my problems on my friends, though. Why not? Continue reading