Tag Archives: personal growth

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.

Seek and Find Out

Nadal after winning his first grand slam

“Seek and you shall find.” Wow! What a big guarantee. If I seek, I shall find? Honestly, that sounds like a cheesy, empty promise that I can find in a fortune cookie in a second-rate Chinese restaurant where they yell at you when taking your order at the counter.

A lot of people are job seekers but they aren’t finding. Some people send out daily applications, visit recruiting agencies, and have created personal branding website things. Often times it leads to the business venture. So many fail in their first year because stuff just couldn’t work out.

Being fit is important to a lot of people. They invest in the athletic wear, get the right supplements, buy a gym membership or home equipment. But it’s hard when you have a big family or a demanding job.

As a country we want change. Our political leadership is failing us, we seem more and more divided, and we just can’t take it anymore. What can we do?

There are people who get jobs, start businesses, are fit with jobs and families, and people who bring about change, however. Are those people different or have some special set of talents? The more I learn from people I admire, it seems not.

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of those online guys who has a big following, started some great businesses, and became a best-selling author. His simple response when asked about what made him so bad ass was “I out worked you. Straight up, I out worked you.”

As a nation, it’s hard to say we’re seeking political change when the average American spends over an hour per day watching TV and being active voting for Project Runway contestants on Twitter, but not one hour per week researching candidates or economic policies.

As a person trying to get fit, it’s hard to say you want a six-pack when you don’t work out because “you don’t feel like it.” Saying you want to start a business but you don’t have time because you have to check out Perez Hilton.

You get where I’m going with this. The first step is honesty. Trusting that what you’re doing right now is exactly what you want to be doing, that you’re lying to yourself when you say you want to be fit as you shove a Twinkie into your face. Every second you’re making a decision. Every second you spend watching TV is a decision to watch TV and not to learn to play the harpsichord or whatever you (say you) want to do. The first step is that honesty…”so this is what is important to me.” How does that sit with you? Does this provide fire under your behind to make you want change? (Related post on embracing dissatisfaction, opens in new window – No Shame In Dissatisfaction)

Some people might respond “well, I’m not willing to give up my side things or distractions. I guess I don’t really want x y or z if it comes at the expense of my relaxation time when I get home from work.” Okay–that is good and dandy. There is nothing wrong with that.

But I want to make you think. I want to impregnate your mind with something that could drive you crazy, crazy enough that over even months of thinking about it, you reach the point you can’t sit. Did you ever wonder: What can you say that you actually tried your best at…and failed?

What have you done where you have sacrificed your TV time, where you have done something when you didn’t feel like it, where you could say you did everything in your power to accomplish, and failed? Could you be rich? Could you change the world? What can you say that you cannot do even if you gave 100% of yourself to? What if you closed off your cell phone and spend all day working on it? Is there something even worth giving this 100% to? It certainly would be a beautiful passion. Something that you’d stop watching TV for, stop doing things that you can admit are not necessary. Can you call yourself a seeker until you have tried?

Aren’t you curious about the extent of your abilities? What would it be like to die and say “I never tested myself?”

Here’s a good video for those who have not seen it. Good motivational tool. “The Secret to Success” by Eric Thomas

By the way, curiosity is a great form of motivation. I wrote about it a little in the post Why You Should Have Curiosity .

The Expectations Box

box.

“You can’t be let down if you don’t have expectations.” The worst part about expectations, however, is not that they allow the possibility of let down, but rather that they tend to cause tunnel vision. Expectations cause us to look for what we think is there versus what could be there.

It’s probably an instinctual part of survival–if every time you see a bear you get attacked, you are likely to run the next time you even smell a bear. But with this good comes a bad. Our mind becomes conditioned and we enter the process of reaffirming our beliefs.

If every girlfriend you had cheated on you, it is possible that you begin to expect all girlfriends to cheat on you. If you’ve been robbed four times and every time it was a black male, it’s possible that you begin to keep your guard up around black males. If you get poor service at the post office and the DMV often, it’s possible that you expect that government workers to be lazy.

What happens when we allow this to take place? We keep the girl who truly loves us at a distance. We push her away. We close out relationships with an entire race of people. We bring down the postal worker as we approach them with a stink attitude. The next person in line finds a hurt postal worker.

We could have had love. We could have found a friend. We could have made someone’s day.

But expectations don’t just affect our relationship to others.

I grew up with several interests, and one of them was money. I was fascinated with it and I had grandiose dreams for my future. Throughout school I had small businesses on the side, my father and mentors were business men, I even went to school for business. Money was going to be a huge part of my life. I had that expectation. Well, right now, I’m letting go of that expectation and for the first time opening up to the idea that money is not what really drives me. I’m finding more fire in things such as reading and writing. Life begins to look a lot different, but I am very glad to be here. I wouldn’t change it for anything and it makes me happy with my path. My expectations of me were boxing me in.

Good: “What if you dropped expectations of others?” Better: What do you expect of yourself? And are these expectations allowing you to be open to a you that is entirely different from the one you know?

You think you know you, but you may very well have no idea. Expecting good behavior from yourself surely is helpful. But do you expect yourself to act up when your significant other talks to the opposite sex? Do you expect that you won’t finish things you start? Do you expect to miss your bedtime again tonight? Why is that you? Can you at least be open to the idea that that isn’t you? And the you that you envisioned, being secure and thorough, and sticking to plans…can you give that you a chance? Please?

Is it because you’ve missed your bedtime ten nights in a row? Is that why you expect you’ll miss it again tonight? Isn’t that expecting the girlfriend to cheat, the postal worker to be an ass, and the black guy to be a thief? Aren’t you imposing the same faulty judgment process on your own self?

Maybe you’re the person that you dream yourself to be, that secure person who does everything they say they will. Maybe you are totally different from who you think you are.

A Reason to Reconnect With Your Past

The roots are bigger than the tree.

For awhile, whenever I thought of alumni events, the following would pop into my mind:

People coming to an event, decked out in their finest regalia, bringing their latest business cards with thirteen word titles. I imagined the alumni events for people who have been out of school for longer than I, for which guys would doll up their wives just to have something nicer looking on their arm when they arrived. “So what are you doing with your life?” I imagined it to be a big show down of who has become whom, and what has been accomplished since. Either that or a boring event where just the “losers” showed up.

Well, I’ve been forced to face the fact that that visualization is, by far, totally a reflection of me and my own insecurities rather than an accurate assessment of alumni events in general. I am twenty-four years old, and I have no concrete answer to the question “What do you want to do with your life?” That question is currently the bane of my existence and man oh man is an alumni event the best place to get practice reciting your answer to that question.

That’s my little intro story. In this post I’m not going to address that question or the nature of the dilemma it creates for “undecided” people. Instead, I just want to point out a good reason to attend alumni events, family gathering, or any form of reconnecting with your “roots” or past.

It has nothing to do with other people, actually. Reconnecting with people with whom you used to share a bond provides a great opportunity to evaluate your personal growth. When you see this person, you are reminded of the way you used to talk, the jokes you used to make, and the things you used to dream about. What has changed within you? Do you still desire the same things? If you’ve given up on a dream, how do you reconcile it? Have your values changed? It’s a great way to superimpose a benchmark next to your thoughts: then and now.

I included “roots,” to include places your parents came from or perhaps places you grew up in and moved out of before you started forming memories. Even though you may not have memories or relationships from this setting, benchmarks can still be found which can be used for self-evaluation.

For example, I spent seven months in Trinidad recently. My mother is from there. I was born in the USA. Whether or not I have grown up with Trini traditions, or have even visited the country, going back there still would have provided the self-evaluation benefit. People who leave Trinidad to come to America tend to want security (the crime there is saddening), opportunity, and cheap electronics. In New York City, the dream is owning a hedge fund, a home in Connecticut, and not being able to sleep at night. Okay that’s even more of a joke, but what I’m saying is that most of us here in America are one or two generations away from people who left their nations of birth for simple but meaningful things (such as security, opportunity, and cheap electronics). If we lose sight of that, it’s easy to get lost in wanting excessive material luxuries, prestige, and other things over and above what our families originally came here for. Is wanting these things bad? No-I’m not saying that. I’m saying going back to see your roots is like a tool that allows you to see some assumptions you might be making, to question whether you need to go above and beyond what your lineage had originally moved for (this is the self-evaluation tool I was referring to). That decision is yours to make though! It’s just nice to be aware of your options.

Have you changed? Has your thinking changed? If so, how has it changed? The same way tracking your progress in the gym is essential to continual fitness improvement, considering these questions is very valuable for one who is interested in his or her personal development. Maybe you’ve gotten off track, or maybe you’ve will be happy with the choices you’ve made. Think about it. Let us make room for our own improvement and simultaneously kick out any reasons or insecurities we have that might interfere with us returning to our past. I invite you to attend your next alumni event, old friends get together, and especially to consider spending some time connecting with your roots if you haven’t already done so. I will!