#12 DON'T PERSONALIZE THINGS

Happiness Choice #12 - Don't take things personally - it's not all about you

DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY

My final tip in my 12 Choices for Happiness series for August is to stop personalizing everything. I left this one til last because it's the biggest stumbling block I have in the area of maintaining my happiness. I am a great one for over-thinking everything and taking responsibility for stuff that isn't really about me. I tend to worry about anything and everything and then let that seep into my soul and suck the happiness right out of my day.

There are a few things I need to remember when I want to slow this process down (I'm hoping to stop it one day but I'll take a reduction in frequency as a positive first step along the way!) I've noted a few pointers I'm working on below.

DON'T OVERTHINK EVERY INTERACTION

If we spend our time worried about what others are going to think, or how they may or may not react, then we stifle our voices. We become less than we are capable of being because we are too scared to speak up or have an opinion in case it might cause offence. Our world is getting louder, people have very strong opinions and they might be different to ours, we can't walk around agreeing with everyone.

We are all entitled ot our own opinions, we don't have to bludgeon others with them, but we can't spend our lives trying to figure out how others will respond before we even open our mouths. We are all adults and we need to be sensitive to each other, but not to the point where we don't have a voice because we are worried about how it will be heard.


IT'S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT ME

So often I think the people around me are upset or offended because of something I've unintentionally said or done. I re-think conversations or interactions and wonder how I could have done it differently to keep them happy. What I need to keep in mind is that it's not all about me - they have other stuff going on in their lives and it can often be about the background noise and not about anything I specifically said or did.

Everyone has their own agendas and they can be defensive or fragile because they are trying to protect a belief that is different to ours. It doesn't mean we did anything wrong - it means that they have issues and we are treading on their toes. It's up to the other person to take responsibility for their thoughts and feelings - it's not our job to try to figure out why some innocent comment was taken the wrong way.


Don't take things personally - what others do is not because of you - Miguel Ruiz


PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES

The people you encounter in life will have a lot going on in their own worlds. We are only a small part of all the action happening in their heads. We never know what is going on with a person on any given day and therefore we won't know how they are going to react to something we say or do. 

We can make assumptions (big mistake!) based on how we think someone would respond in certain situations, but that doesn't guarantee the outcome. People can respond in a myriad of different ways and they can choose to be offended or not - depending on what is going on in their lives at the time. Something totally inoccuous can set a person off - it may not have bothered them a week ago, but it bothers them on that particular day.


I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHER PEOPLE

I have agonized over situations where someone close to me has been upset or offended. Family members can be the biggest concern - they are the people we love the most and have the most invested in, and when we upset them then we certainly know about it! It's our responsibility to live at peace with the people we love, but that doesn't mean that there won't be times when we butt heads and cause them pain.

I know I've been guilty of this before, but I'm learning to look at situations more objectively. I will definitely take ownership of my share of an upset, but I'm learning that I don't have to take it all on my shoulders. When you are in conflict with another adult, there is usually a degree of give and take on both sides. I refuse to be bullied into not having my own opinion and my own entitlement to my foundational values. If that offends you, then I'm sorry that you're offended but I'm not going to lie down and let you crush me anymore. There needs to be compromise if we are in relationship with others.


LET IT GO

As our good friend Elsa from Frozen would say - "Let it Go" don't take responsibility for every encounter that doesn't turn out perfectly. Live and let live and in the process hold tight to your happiness. Don't let someone else's choices ruin your day. If they want to be offended - let them. There is no rule that states it's our responsibility to keep everyone else happy - but it is definitely our job to maintain our own happiness and to share that with as many people as possible.

I hope you enjoyed the August Choices for Happiness series - it's been fun to write and a great reminder to myself to seek happiness and live a life of joy whenever possible. September is going to be something a little different - hopefully you'll pop back to see what's going on next month.

Happiness Choice #12 - Don't take things personally - it's not all about you

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37 comments

  1. Leanne, this post was written for me! Thank you for the kick in the pants!! I personalise everything. "What did she mean by that?" "What have I done to upset her?" A very well written and meaningful post, certainly for me. Umm, Why did you need to write it? Is it something I said? LOL! The Best of Everything. #SYW

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    1. I am a shocker for doing it too Shirley, but I've come to realize lately that I can't live my life constantly treading on eggshells and trying not to offend everyone's delicate sensibilities - they're big people and they need to take some responsibility for how they respond. It's liberating to let this go a bit.

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  2. I think this is so important. I used to be the one who wondered if what I said was taken the wrong way, or I worried about things others said to me until that was all I could think about. I finally accepted people are themselves, and I'm not responsible for anyone but me. That has made all the difference, and you hit the message right on the head - there's more happiness when I follow that path.

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    1. I think it takes us a long time to stop trying to make sure everyone else is happy but at our own expense Melody. I'm so much happier when I stop trying to monitor every word I say and every nuance that someone might find they don't like. I just don't have the time or energy for it anymore.

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  3. I do admit that not worry about what others think is a skill that eluded me while I was young. But the older I get, the less I worry. I think it has to do with realizing that I have less time in this world than I've already spent in this world. I'm not going to waste anymore of it worry about what others think.

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    1. Me too Jennifer - I'm getting much better at letting other people be responsible for their reactions and their attitude - even when I don't like how it affects me at times.

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  4. I think I am getting better at this one. Mostly because worrying about it takes too much energy! ;)

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    1. It definitely is an energy and joy sapper isn't it Diane - not worth the pain really.

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  5. Oh my how I do struggle with this one! Logically I know it's not always about me - in reality it probably rarely is, but knowing and *knowing* are 2 different things.

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    1. It's a heart and head dilemma Jo - where we know something in our head but it still hurts our heart sometimes.

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  6. Leanne you are writing about me although now that I'm 60 I think things are going to change - I hope! I take on everyone's problems and try to make life great for them and also I do take things personally. However, life is short so I need to start thinking of what makes me happy and realising that people are responsible for their own lives. We all have to make mistakes and I can't always make it better for others. Mistakes help us to grow don't they?

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    1. I'm with you Sue - it's always been "what will people think?" or "I hope I didn't hurt her feelings" or whatever - now I'm starting to realize that people are responsible for their own choices and reactions and it's not up to me to pussyfoot around all the time in case their delicate sensibilities are wounded - I'm definitely getting tougher in my old age!

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  7. Oh Leanne I'm terrible at this.... I tend to think everything is about me and always personalise things. For eg, if I go into my boss at work and he / she is grumpy I'll assume it's about me and something I've done / a briefing note I've written. Of course I realise it's usually nothing to do with me and the sane part of me realises that, but its hard not to assume you wear some blame! #teamlovinlife

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    1. I do the same thing Deb - wondering what I might have said or done to upset someone because they're in a bad mood. It's ridiculous when you think about it and I'm trying to learn not to do it because it wastes so much time and emotional energy and I'm too old for that these days!

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  8. Yes I'm the eternal people pleaser and always worried that I might offend someone by saying the wrong thing or by expressing my own opinions. It's so true that how other people treat you or speak to you is their problem and not yours. I tend to take everything people say too personally and wish I could learn to be more resilient to criticism. I really enjoyed reading this post as it resonated with me. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I like the idea of being "resilient to criticism" Kathy - it's something I'm definitely working on. Also taking ownership of my own feelings and choosing not to let stuff hurt me as much. It's really my choice as to whether I take offence and the same goes for other people - if we all let things go more the world would be a much happier place.

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  9. This post so resonated with me. I barely open my mouth before I'm thinking, 'what will they think?' Pathetic. I think it's born of insecurity really - and I was so shy for years and years, in fact barely said Boo to a Goose until I was about 40. Now I'm getting older I have stern chats with myself, about just being sensitive to others as far as possible and then going about life without beating myself over what I might have said to upset someone! Great post :)

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    1. I can't believe you were a shy little flower Jo - you seem so together and on top of things - getting older definitely has its benefits in that regard! I also have those self-chats about not letting stuff get to me and letting other people be responsible for their reactions and whether they want to be offended.

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  10. I have learnt I've rthe years (the hard way! ) not to take anything personal!! Maybe it's going through two divorces that have given me that outlook.

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    1. Two divorces would definitely teach you a few lessons I imagine Kerrie! I bet you've come out stronger and more sure of your own worth from it - and I bet you won't be repeating any mistakes you've made either :)

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  11. Leanne...this one is extremely hard for me, but I think as I've gotten older, I get it!
    I still over analyze most things I say...but I have learned to let it go sooner!!
    XOOX
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. I do the overthinking thing all the time too Jodie but I'm getting better slowly but surely in the area of not letting things get to me so much. Still got a way to go before I have it down pat though.

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  12. Great post - it's hard sometimes to remember that we don't need to "own" or "fix" other people's problems...a great reminder!

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    1. I think women tend to want everyone to be happy and in a good place don't they? But it's not all our responsibility and I'm finding my own voice again and working out what is mine to own and what belongs to other people and letting them be responsible for that.

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  13. Such a good post, this is one that everyone needs to read! Thank you Leanne for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I shared your post on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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    1. Thanks for sharing it Dee - I really appreciate it (and the link party too)

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  14. Don't take anything personally. That's one of the big ones in The Four Agreements. Very effective.
    #teamlovinlife

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    1. Easy to say and harder to put into practice for some of us Leanne - I'm still a work in progress at times.

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  15. Just a quick comment Leanne as I've commented before. Thank you for linking up at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty and I've shared on social media.

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  16. Such great advice! Thank you so much for letting me not feel guilty for wanting to make myself happy before someone else!

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    1. It's essential that we look at filling our own cup of happiness so that we can share it with others Cathy - otherwise our well runs dry far too quickly.

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  17. Have a lovely week Leanne and thank you for always supporting #overthemoon link up. We always love your posts and words of wisdom :)

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  18. Leanne, I loved this post, it really spoke to me because I'm guilty of most of these things at different times, especially of over thinking interactions. Your statements were right on and things that I need to remember! Thanks for sharing at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. Shared on all my social media.

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  20. Leanne, of the 4 Agreements (Don Miguel Ruiz), this one trips me up the most, followed closely by "Don't make assumptions." I usually have to "journal it out" to get back to some sort of equilibrium.

    I just discovered your blog, and I love it! (I'm signing up to receive it in my in-box.)

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  21. So many could benefit from heeding this excellent advice! Thank you for sharing at #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty

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