Stop Taking Things Too Personally


To decrease your tendency to take things too personally (believing people are critical of you when they are not).

You Should Know

Do you frequently feel that others unfairly criticized you? Do you feel people are attacking you when you do not deserve it? 

If you often feel this way, you may take things too personally believing people are being hard on you when they are just expressing their opinions.

For example, John’s wife Susan told him one night at dinner, “My friend Maggie just got a new car. She’s lucky to have a husband who is a lawyer and has such a good income.”

 John felt his wife said that he is a failure and that he cannot give her the nice things she wants. He felt she was putting him down for his job as a sales associate at a car dealership.

 John at first felt hurt and depressed, but then he felt angry. He thought to himself, “Susan does not know how hard I work. She’s so selfish and only thinks about things she wants to buy. I don’t even know why I stay married to her.”

If you were watching this conversation as an observer, you would see that Susan was not really being critical of her husband. She was just stating a fact about her friend.

 You could probably tell this by Susan’s tone of voice and her body language. But John often takes things personally that are not really about him.

 He does this with his wife, with his family, and at work. As a result, John has a difficult time with most of his relationships.

Does this sound like you? Are you also sensitive to criticism and rejection? Can you see that if you do not take things so personally, your relationships will improve?

The next time they hurt your feelings, you can ask yourself:

  • Was that really about me?
  • Could she have meant something else by that comment?
  • Is there another way to take this?
  • Maybe he is talking about someone else?
  • Maybe that remark means nothing.
  • I can check it out with her later.
  • This isn’t necessarily about me!

If you can learn to challenge your tendency to over-personalize what people are saying, you will probably have an easier time navigating your relationships.

Nancy Duarte

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