What does the phrase “Don’t take it personal” actually mean? Most probably, someone told you something not so pleasant for you and it does concern you, but they ask you to ignore the fact that it concerns you… Not so easy, actually.
However, lately, I started to think that the whole life is about that: Just don’t take life so personal and you might discover that you are far more happier than you used to be. Well, I am not trying to teach anyone anything since I have myself no idea about life and this is not one of those annoying articles “7 reasons you’ve been living your life wrong”. Nope, this is just one small discovery of mine which I decided to share.
We have very strong tendency to imagine the world revolving around us and it’s natural, we “live in our bodies”, we look at the world from inside our head and it’s hard not to put everything through our filter. Nothing’s wrong with it. But there’s a small detail that changes everything. We often forget that this is just our perspective and every other person does exactly the same, for them, the world revolves around them and not around you. You ask: how is this good or making you happy in any way? God, have some patience and sacrifice a bit of your precious time, will you?
This is how:
When few negative things happen in our lives, we start to think:
- Why does everything bad happen to me?
- I bet this person wishes me harm
- I must be lame and that’s why I am miserable
- If I try to change something radically in my life, people might think I am stupid
and the final, lethal, all-consuming, making you want to hide under your blanket- phrase:
THE WORLD IS AGAINST ME!
Whooow, wait a minute and stop here… Aren’t you believing yourself to be of too much importance or threat? Do you actually think the WORLD decided to have some strategy against you? Even Adolf Hitler didn’t have the whole world against him! Who do you think you are?
Exactly this is when we take ourselves too seriously, too important and overly noticable for other people. This is one of the main accompanying thoughts of anxiety. When you feel like you are on the spotlight.
Psychologists actually call this bias “Spotlight effect”. It is scientifically proven that other people notice you far less than you think. Psychologist Thomas Gilovich asked some students to wear shirts that would have embarrassing photos on them for the experiment and they were asked how many people they think would notice those imprints on t-shirts and the results were compared by actually asking others whether they noticed embarrassing photos or not. The experiment showed that people largely exaggerate how much they were noticed.
On one hand, you might think this is a bit sad. Does it mean that nobody cares about us? No, it simply means that everybody is occupied with themselves, mainly minding their own business. Even if it happens that they judge you, it might come from their problems and inhibitions and by judging you they want to feel better about themselves. What others think about you might actually have very little relevance and connection to reality. At least people who don’t know you that well.
This is why we should try and stop making up conspiracy theories against us. Walking around feeling under spotlight and believing that everything we do is noticed, judged and important. Life doesn’t happen to YOU, it just happens.
Just think how much freedom and power this actually gives to you. Try and start one of your days realizing that you really are the most important person for yourself and act accordingly. You might notice an interesting paradox that this realization might even make kinder to other people, since you realize now that they are just like you with their own problems, fears and beliefs.
Walk out of the door confidently in the morning. Believe that you can really make anything you want out of your day and your life. It’s really up to you. And if some negative events happened right after each other, don’t feel like some higher power or God is angry at you. It most probably is just unfortunate coincidence and has nothing to do with you being a bad, worthless person.
Each problem is separate and try to deal with them separately.
Each person is different and try to understand them, try to see how the world might seem for them and you might become much more open to the outer world.
Life just goes on and gives surprises to you every day, accept them and please, please Don’t take it personal, it’s just life. You are not good, you are not bad, you are you, the way you think you are. What other people think about you is just their version of yourself which is filtered through their egocentric minds.
Don’t take life personal, don’t be so greedy, it belongs to everyone, my dear!
P.S. Thanks to the psychologist Anca Bucur who inspired me for writing this post