“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” –Mahatma Gandhi
A common problem that can aid in having lower self-esteem is taking the thoughts, sayings, and opinions of others too personally.
Growing up I can’t begin to tell you how many times I heard someone say: “Don’t take it personally!” Whether it was coming from my modeling agency, my best friend, a family member, or even a work college. No matter how often I heard that phrase, I could never seem to get the hang of ‘not taking something personally’.
Deciding to not take something personally is SO much easier said than done! I remember hearing such beautiful, confident, secure people say this to me growing up, and I would just think to myself: “How in the world are they so positive and happy when it comes to the thoughts and opinions of others?” That’s when I realized that not taking anything personally is definitely something that takes some time to learn! Below are some tricks that helped me learn how to not take anything personally:
- Breathe. Focus on breathing for just a minute or two. Notice how it feels inhaling and exhaling throughout your entire body. This simple process allows your mind and body to calm down a bit, taking your focus off of a specific problem.
- Become more confident. Nothing can be more intimidating that true, radiant confidence. When a person is confident in who they are, how they dress, and what they look like it almost closes the door to any negative comments and sends a message to those around them that says: “Don’t even think about saying something bad about me, I’m happy with who I am.” When someone is truly confident in who they are, the thoughts and opinions of others will not even matter. Interested in learning how to increase confidence? Check out our recent post!
- Be too busy to care. If you continue to dwell on what someone else may or may not have said to you, then you might just have too much time on your hands. Instead, find something productive to fill your time with. Like getting together with an old friend, joining some type of community group, volunteering somewhere, or even taking a group exercise class! So, next time you start taking something too personally say to yourself: “I’m too busy for this. I have far more important things to fill my time with rather than focusing on the thoughts and opinions of others.”
- Realize that everything isn’t about you. Often times when we feel we’re being judged or wrongly accused by another person, we’re actually not. Instead of thinking something is about you, stop for a minute ask yourself: Is this truly who I am? If this actually wasn’t about me, how would I feel differently? And finally consider the source, and who the information is coming from because often times sad insecure people like to make those around them feel sad and insecure as well.
- Talk about it. Over the years I have learned the importance of communication and the healing properties it has. In the past, whenever someone would say something that I took personally I would keep it to myself and try to ‘work through it’ on my own, instead of sharing my thoughts with a mentor or close friend. Bad decision on my end. When we’re able to share our hearts with someone we trust it unknowingly takes such a weight off of our shoulders. Simply having someone just listen to how we may be feeling is SO healthy! So next time someone says something that you take personally, I encourage you to talk to someone about it and allow them to just listen or give you some tips on how to move forward. Whether it’s a parent, sibling, close friend, mentor, or therapist, sharing our thoughts to others will be such a benefit.
- Water on a duck. Growing up my mum used to say to me: “Let the comments and opinions of others slid off of you like water on a duck.” Sounds weird I know, but there is an amazing analogy behind this phrase. Ducks have very oily feathers, which allows water to simply ‘roll off’ of them when they come back up to the surface after diving for food. In this case, the duck is YOU and the water is everything negative people may say to you or about you. When you simply don’t care or give any thought or energy to what someone else said about you, it is so beyond freeing! Letting the comments of others ‘literally’ roll off of you like water on a duck is one of the biggest steps you can take when learning how to not take anything personally.
- Improve your self-esteem. One of the first steps in improving your self-esteem is recognizing why there may be low self-esteem in the first place. There are so many things that can be causing lower self-esteem such as loneliness, neglect, bullying, comparison, and much more. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify some of the ‘root’ causes of having lower self-esteem. Regardless, some of the things that have helped me improve my self-esteem are:
- Speaking positively to yourself
- Not comparing yourself to others around you
- Doing things you truly enjoy
- Surrounding yourself with like-minded people
- Focusing on what you are able to change, instead of what you’re not
Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable or go through various uncertainties in life in order to truly learn and come out stronger than before. So next time you’re in an uncomfortable situation, ask yourself what you can learn from this and how it will benefit you in the long run.
What are some of your favorite ways to not take things personally? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!