Don’t Take it Personal

Don't take it personally

Don’t take things so personally!

Have you ever heard or given this advice to others? I sure have, many times. But, what does this statement truly means?

The other day, I listened to a friend express her anger and frustration over having been stood up the night before. She went back and forth from calling him every name in the book, to saying,

“Maybe there’s something wrong with me?”

I’ve heard her tell others, “Don’t take things so personally” many times. Yet, she had spent that whole day thinking about the previous night and couldn’t bring herself to do the things she had planned to do.

This is probably something we have all done, right? We have an idea of what this statement means yet, in certain situations, we believe that others’ actions, attitude or opinions revolve around us. I know I have been guilty of this on a few occasions.

Let me share a personal experience which opened my eyes to grasp the core essence of this valuable advice.

During the time I lived in Argentina, one of my dear friends invited a few friends for a (BBQ) and asked that everyone arrive for 7:00 PM. When I got there at 7:00 PM sharp, the first thing she said to me was, “What are you doing here so early?”

I was stunned!

Turns out that in Argentina, 7:00 PM means not before 8:00 PM.

That evening, the first guest, besides myself the early bird, got there at 8:30 PM. By the time everyone arrived, it was 9:30 PM. That’s 2.5 hours later!!! Actually two people didn’t show up, without as much as a phone call.

I thought surely this would have the host or the other guests who were waiting anxious or angry. Well, not there. Everyone was more interested in talking, laughing, and dancing together, until we sat at the table at 10:00 PM.

Here’s my eye opener, aha moment!

Because their attention was not focused on the waiting, they enjoyed the present moment. By having awareness that other’s behavior had nothing to do with them, their actions were dominated by positive thoughts, which led to everyone having fun.

It’s something I always remembered, particularly because, like my friend, there have been events which I let consume my thoughts and probably missed out on other opportunities.

Here’s an example:

About two years ago, I really wanted to do a story on Jean Beliveau, the man who had just returned from an 11 years walk around the world. I sent him a request for an interview to share on my website. I waited impatiently for 2 weeks before getting a reply. That whole time, I kept checking my inbox constantly and wondering what was taking him so long to answer. When I got his reply, he declined my request. I was crushed. I felt I wasn’t worthy enough from him to take time for me.

A year later, after my aha moment, I thought about Jean Beliveau again. This time with the awareness that maybe, just maybe, his response had nothing to with me. He had just returned, maybe he was swamped with the media. So, I sent him another request. Something I never would have done had I not reassessed my thoughts. Wouldn’t you know it, this time he accepted!

Turns out, he was booked solid with media interviews and writing a book. Because I created a drama in my mind and made it about me, I didn’t see the big picture.

I believe that it’s also important to always be willing to take a step back and look at what we’re putting out there with our own actions, attitude or behavior. If we want to continue to grow and improve, we can learn from gaining awareness about ourselves and become a better person in our personal and professional lives. Once you have your foundation about who you are strongly built in and solid, don’t let anyone take it down by holding on to anything they throw at you.

One of my favorite authors, Don Miguel Ruiz, speaks about not taking things personally in his book The Four Agreements, he says,

“Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. The truth is that this person is dealing with his or her own feelings, beliefs, and opinions. If you take it personally, then you take that poison and it becomes yours.”

I know it’s not easy. But, if you remind yourself of this everyday, it will eventually bring you closer to having awareness.

Ruiz also says,

“There is a huge amount of emotional freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally… the whole world can gossip about you and send you emotional poison, and if you don’t take it personally, you will not eat it.”

It takes practice. I still practice regularly. But, if you commit to practicing, I promise it gets easier and you’ll enjoy the change that this freedom will bring in your life!

I would like to hear from you. Have you ever looked back on a situation where at first you let it control your thoughts and actions, only to find out later it had nothing to do with you?

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs and tagged , .

12 Responses to Don’t Take it Personal

  1. Hilde Plasman says:

    I totally agree with you, Antonia !

    What others do or say to us is their Karma, they have their own difficulty’s to past through, and the way we react is our Karma. If we do not take it personal and try to understand the other it’s better than react out of our ego, ignorance.

  2. Hi Antonia!

    At the beginning of your text, you show a clear example of the “latino time”. 🙂 If you just pass by in a Latin America area, you’ll find that very discomforting and it will hurt your senses. As you know, after a while you have to get used to it and follow the flow. For example if you take the bus… you have no idea at what time it will precisely leave or when you’ll arrive at your destination… so you might as well just sit and enjoy the ride.

    I once read that people usually do things because of two reasons… to avoid pain or to gain pleasure. But the avoidance of pain is greater, because you need to get at least in a neutral state. When someone is calling you names, they are venting… and usually short on real arguments. It’s not easy but let it pass (sometimes even agree with them!) then once the storm has passed, ask why it happened.

    It’s much easier to do with practice, yes, but also when you don’t have multiple sources of stress around you. I know since I entered Latin America, I’m much more relaxed and very few things can actually bother me these days. I’m prepared for almost anything that comes my way… and I adapt… when something new comes about, I learn for the next time. 🙂


    • Antonia says:

      Hi Sylvain,

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience! So true, traveling across South America does increase and strengthen our patience and flexibility towards certain situations. I agree being surround by people or in an environment where everyone lives ‘in the moment’ does make it easier:)

  3. Chas says:

    I love ‘The Four Agreements’. I have a friend that put out a CD in 2002 based upon this book, titled ‘The Circle of Fire’. Many times (at least for me), it is passion which creates drama within my mind and clouds my thoughts. There upon the seed which is planted, flourishes with my imagination and I create a whole dramatic play within my mind of events which never occurred . When the facts of what really took place are revealed, I realize how childish my thoughts and emotions were, that were spurred on by my wild imagination ran amock.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Chas,

      Thanks for sharing your experience and another great book. I agree, when we observe our thoughts, we are revealed the truth:)

  4. Michele Delatour says:

    Quel beau partage Antonia, merci ! And I would add, if I may, it is also wise at time, to keep a good distance from those sending “poison” 😉

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Michele,

      Absolutely Michele! Surrounding yourself with positive minded people will increase your happiness and quality of life! Thanks for sharing this important point:)

  5. christine Gosselin says:

    Salut Toni…je pratique mon anglais et j’adore te lire …bisou…Christine

    • Antonia says:

      Salut Christine!

      Quelle belle surprise:) Merci d’avoir partagé ton message!

  6. Ghazala says:

    Thank You for sharing such a wonderful piece. I realized the same since few weeks back and now am practicing to not let others words enter in my mind. After all “Mind is everything, what we think we become.” We really need to take care of it.

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Ghazala

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and realization!