How to Stop Taking Things Personally: 10 Ways That Work

Amber Murphy

People take things personally for a variety of reasons. People take things personally because they are insecure or misinterpret what someone else is saying. It’s relatively easy to mistake what another person says, especially when there’s a communication breakdown. When you a person takes things personally, they’re usually on the defense. This means that they feel their character, abilities, competence, or personal achievements are under attack. Of course, no one enjoy being spoken about in a negative light. However, it’s important to remember that everyone has the right to voice their opinions, whether true or untrue. What does this mean for the individual? While you can’t control what other people do or say, you can only control how you react to it. This is especially true for what you choose to internalize and that of which you choose to disregard. To internalize something means you are taking it personally. Taking things personally can contribute to negative, self-limiting beliefs. It can also prevent you from pursuing goals you’re quite passionate about. Thus, you must know how to stop taking things personally.

10 Ways to Stop Taking Things Personally

1. Get Busy

Man working on his laptop computer

An idle mind is the devil’s playground. When a person is idle, a slew of thoughts and emotions tend to pour in. These negative thoughts and feelings can often link back to the negative words of others. It’s good to spend your time wisely not to get caught up in a cycle of negative thinking. When you get busy, you have no time to care about what other people are saying. Instead, you have other notable highlights of your life and productive things to talk about. To get busy, you want to focus on endeavors that match your personality. What do you like to do? If you like art, then consider taking workshops and perfecting your craft. Volunteerism is also an option for those individuals who find joy in helping others. The key is to immerse yourself in a hobby you love doing. You’ll begin to attract like-minded people where the common interest becomes the topic of conversation.

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2. Question Your Thinking

If you’re taking things personally, question why you’re doing so. You could find that you take things personally because you believe what’s being said about you. This doesn’t mean that what’s being said is true. In actuality, it could mean that you were raised or convinced to feel that way about yourself. To recondition this thought process, you must become conscientious. This high level of self-awareness can be established through questioning your thinking. Not only will you examine your thoughts and why you think a certain way, but you should also take notice of when the negative self-talk first started.

Being more mindful is also a great way to become more aware of your thoughts. One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness is with meditation. A simple guided meditation for overthinking can help train your mind to become more aware of your thinking and notice when you start taking something personally.

3. Eliminate Confusion

Walls covered in graffiti

You can stop taking things personally by eliminating confusion from your life. The confusion comes in many various forms and accompanies many different people. Not everyone wants to see you succeed in life. Or, some people want you to succeed, but not more than them. People like this will give you fake, lackluster compliments. They may also be passive-aggressive when speaking to you, not communicating how they feel towards you. They may also use self-deprecating humor, minimize your accomplishments, or continuously compare their progress to yours. While it’s not very obvious, there are detriments to keeping such people around. Subconsciously, you may start to believe certain negative things they are saying about you. It’s best to talk with these people and let them know how you feel to eliminate these bad habits. If they can’t respect your wishes, then you should consider finding a new social group.

4. Become More Confident

A top reason why people take things personally has a lot to do with personal insecurities. Insecurities spawn from things such as abuse, bullying, or constantly comparing one’s self to someone else. When a person is insecure, they tend to be much more self-conscious and susceptible to others’ judgment. As stated, everyone has an opinion. However, a person who has confidence doesn’t feel any less valuable or secure while hearing criticism or opinions. To build confidence, and stop taking things personally, incorporate self-love into your lifestyle. When we have a secure bond with ourselves, we don’t care about what other people think about who we are. Self-love activities include having a spa day, getting your nails done, meditating, journaling, working out, surrounding yourself with positive individuals, and empowering yourself through daily affirmations.

5. Understand the Power You Have

Woman looking confidently into the camera

There are two common types of criticism: constructive criticism and destructive criticism. When someone says something negative about you, don’t take the bait. Sometimes, people say things to see how you’ll react. Don’t give them a reaction. Instead, continue focusing on improving your life. The best remedy to defeat people like this is to ignore them. A reaction is what feeds them, and it’s what they need to feel validated. And, your power is way too important to be used to address negativity. While the first impulse may be to defend yourself, understand that not everyone is deserving of a response. So, don’t give them that recognition. As for respectful criticism, take heed. However, never take constructive criticism personally as those providing you with it usually only want to see you become better.

6. Stop Being So Concerned About What Others Think of You

It may sound easier said than done for some, but you need to stop taking things personally. Ask yourself, do you care about what other people think of you? If so, why do you care? Most people care about what other people think and say about them to some degree. But we indeed have no authority over what someone else gets to use their freedom of speech and thought for. Unless someone is inciting violence or defaming your name, we can only take the things people feel and say about us with a grain of salt. It doesn’t affect who you are as an individual. Remember that other people don’t get to define you. You define yourself through how you interact with others and through the things you do in this life.

7. Stop Making Assumptions

Man putting on sunglasses

Assumptions can be made from misspeaking or misinterpreting. Misunderstandings occur every day, whether comprehending what someone says to someone or someone using the wrong words. This communication breakdown can result in individuals jumping to conclusions and making assumptions. A person can take something personally because they misunderstood what another person was saying. In such a case, an innocent compliment can be interpreted as a satirical remark. Try to catch yourself before you start assuming or coming to your conclusions about what a person says or feels towards you.

8. Ask for Clarification

To reduce the chances of misunderstanding and assumptions, and stop you from taking something personally, it’s always best to ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat themselves or to elaborate on their ideas. This is what it means to have a healthy, progressive dialogue. You may learn that you and this person have quite a lot in common. Clarity clears up the confusion. As we know, confusion can make a person believe in a complete falsehood. Such a misconception may include the perception we feel that others have about us. It’s always best to ask and receive answers straight from the source.

9. Know Thyself

Woman looking at herself in the mirror in a field

Knowing yourself has a lot to do with your confidence. When you know yourself, you receive a massive boost in confidence. Knowing yourself involves understanding what makes you who you are. You know your limits and your standards which are both necessary components for setting boundaries. As you are firm in who you are, there’s nothing anyone can do or say to impact your peace and pride negatively. You can get to know yourself by detaching from all beliefs and sentiments imposed onto you by others. Also, spend quality time with yourself to relearn who you indeed are.

10. Be Assertive

Being kind is something we’re taught to do from when we’re little. However, there are some misunderstandings when it comes to kindness. In the name of kindness, some people shy away from being assertive because they might associate assertiveness with something negative. You can still be kind while being assertive. This is an alternative approach to ignoring what other people say towards you. Instead of ignoring those people, you can assert yourself. To assert means to declare, claim, or stand up for something. In being assertive, you confidently cut through lies and half-truths spoken about you. You are also showing others that you have boundaries and don’t approve of their negative speech. Once you assert yourself, you will feel in control over the situation and how you respond to future situations. Instead of bottling in your emotions or internalizing negativity, you can choose to let it out through asserting yourself.

Regardless of what other people say, we are only responsible for how we react and respond. When we can stop taking things personally, we take back our power. Each person has the right to an opinion, just as you have the right to not subscribe to those opinions and beliefs. In knowing yourself, you can understand how to stop taking things personally.

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