There are many misconceptions about what happens when we stop taking things personally. And they are SO disempowering! I don’t ever want you to fall into the trap of continuing to take things personally because you misunderstood what it means and what happens when you stop.
So let's correct 7 of the most common myths right now:
Myth #1: “Not taking things personally means being passive, letting people walk all over you.”
Myth #2: “Not taking things personally means not speaking your mind, and not standing up for yourself, and relinquishing your power to change things”
Myth #3: “Not taking things personally means essentially bowing down to others… and doing what they want, while ignoring your own wants and needs.”
Correction Myth 1-3: Not taking things personally is about no longer being weighed down by painful emotions that undermine your power to stand up for yourself powerfully (like hurt, anger, frustration, resentment, feeling unimportant)!
So the truth is, not taking things personally actually frees you up to have more energy, more clarity of mind, and more power to effectively GET the treatment you want.
It also allows you to follow through on setting strong boundaries, communicate effectively in a way in a way that gets through to other better, make requests that they're more likely to want to honor.
It's actuallyTAKING things personally that makes you less effective at advocating for yourself and what you want!! Because you’re too bogged down by the heavy emotions to effectively get through to the other person. (Instead, they get defensive, withdrawn, or angry at you.)
Myth #4: “Not taking this personally means just making excuses for someone's bad behavior and ignoring things that shouldn’t be ignored and never holding them accountable.”
Correction: The truth is, it makes you BETTER able to effectively hold people accountable for their bad behavior, because you're not pointing fingers all the time, diluting the effect of calling them out. Instead, you're able to communicate so much better about what they've done wrong for the things that truly matter–and they're much more likely to want to work on themselves and do things differently when you're approaching them without that accusatory anger and hurt, but from a grounded, firm, loving place. (Curious about this? Look for more about this in my next email!)
Myth #5: “Not taking things personally implies the other person has done no wrong and it’s all your own fault that you feel hurt.”
Correction: The truth is not taking things personally never means the other person is a total angel, while you are making it all up. No, of COURSE NOT! Most often the pain comes from a combination of other people's unskillful actions, and your own way of internalizing those actions. But since we cannot MAKE another adult be different, the only place to go to reliably free ourselves from hurt feelings is to ourselves. Once we are no longer contributing to our own pain, we can then hold them accountable for their actions and advocate for the treatment we want in the future so much better.
Myth #6: “Not taking things personally is about squashing and ignoring your emotions.”
Correction: The truth is that, when we learn the right way to stop taking things personally, we actually pay more attention to our own emotions …more loving, tender, deeply caring attention. We learn to listen to them, caretake them, soothe and support them better than we ever have in our life before.
Myth # 7: “Not taking things personally makes you an unfeeling, cold person.”
Correction: Not taking things personally actually makes you a MORE compassionate loving person, because you are no longer caught up in the sticky web of unnecessary hurt and anger that tends to make us act disrespectful and cold! The truth is, more love, and genuine deep human connection is suddenly possible when you truly stop taking things personally–with your spouse and in all your other relationships.
It’s understandable that people get confused about what not taking things personally actually means and looks like, and the effect it has— because there are plenty of ways to do it wrong.
So if you’ve ever felt DISempowered when you're trying to not take things personally, it’s because you were doing it wrong. You were making yourself into a doormat, or ignoring yourself, or not advocating for what you want. Let’s stop that now!
When you do it right, it’s like a doorway to freedom opens up, and you feel the shackles you wore for so long fall to the ground, and you are suddenly, strong, light, at ease, and totally empowered again.
And able to generate so much more connection with those you care about.