Back in the day, I used to take most things personally. To me this made perfect sense. If someone says somthing bad about you, it must be true. Why wouldn’t it? They see you, and that bad thing is what they see. It of course makes a ton of sense to believe what everyone says about you.
I have done a huge amount of reading in the past years, only to find out that I was completely mistaken. There is tons of research about the brain that show that what we perceive is most of the time very far away from reality. If you think about it, this makes quite a lot of sense since it allows us to explain why people from different cultures, backgrounds, genders, ages, you name it, have such different strong opinions about different topics. I won’t go into detail about the source of different opinions, though.
The frustration of not understanding
See, we use too much of our energy trying to make sense of other people’s actions. It is frustrating for us human beings to not be able to understand. It is frustrating to not understand why your boss treated you poorly, why the person who claimed to love you the most gave you the most excruciating pain, or why you were not invited to that party.
Because it is so frustrating for us to not understand, we make up answers of our own. We complete the gray areas with our own colors. We truly can not handle having a drawing with blank spaces. But truth is, that no matter how hard we work to compile as much information as we can to create a proper answer, it will never truly fit reality.
Knowing deeply but never fully
As harsh as it may sound, you will never be able to know another person fully. You can certainly know them deeply. You can be the #1 knower of a certain person, but there will always be gaps about themselves that not even they know. There will always be those things that they don’t even dare to admit to themselves, so how will you, outsider, know?
If that is true between romantic partners, imagine how true it is between friends, and how much truer it is between colleagues. So when your boss treats you poorly and you think that you know exactly why that was, think twice.
Disappointment is a huge proof of miss-interpretation. Being disappointed on someone, basically means that reality didn’t meet your expectations. And let’s not even talk about unreceived apologies. No, actually yes, let’s talk about them. Not getting an apology certainly makes disappointments escalate pretty quickly. Why? Because unreceived apologies turn one disappointment into a whole song of disappointments. A song that talks about everything that you thought was, but ended up not being. A song about you being completely either blind or stupid. A song that we may call: Yup, I am taking this situation personally, and beyond.
This is the deal breaker. When reality doesn’t meet your expectations, first realise that your expectations are based on your knowledge. And then, realise that your knowledge, although it may seem pretty objective and universally real to you, it is not. It is only real to you. Ouch, I know. So what to do?
Instead of taking things personally, take things responsibly. These are 2 very different things. Taking responsibility means taking control of your reaction to a situation, thus, taking control of your life like a freaking rock-star. Taking responsibility does not mean taking the blame. (It may or may not be your fault.) Taking responsibility means reviewing a situation, acknowledging that you did your best, and do even better the next time. Doing your best doesn’t mean that you did a great job. It means that the past is in the past and that at a certain moment, your biology did as good as it could. Having this awareness gives you the power to move on from what just happened and smartly jump back into your life.
There is nothing about taking responsibility that involves the reason why another person treated you wrong or hurt you. It doesn’t involve them being right or wrong. It doesn’t require filling the gaps in the attempt to understand why they acted a certain way. It doesn’t need any of that, yet it gives you immense power to be in this world and be the source of goodness that you so much want.