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:
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.
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.
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.