How to Not Take Things Personally: 11 Tips From a Therapist

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29 March 2024

6 Mins

Do you ever feel upset by things people say or do, even when they didn't mean to hurt you? It happens to a lot of us—it's called taking things personally. But what if there was a way to stop feeling that way and feel better?

In this guide, we'll talk about simple tips to help you with how to not take things personally how to understand why we feel hurt, and how to think differently about what others say. By the end, you'll have some useful resources to make your relationships stronger and feel happier.

Let's get started!

What Causes People to Take Things Personally?

When someone says or does something that we interpret as hurtful or critical, it can trigger strong emotional reactions, leading us to feel upset, defensive, or even attacked. But why do we feel this way? It can happen because of a few reasons:

  • Feeling good about yourself: If you don't feel confident or good about yourself, you might take things more personally because you doubt yourself.
  • Past experiences: If you've had bad experiences before, like being criticized or rejected, you might be extra sensitive to similar situations in the future.
  • Your personality: Some people are naturally more sensitive or strive for perfection, which can make them take things personally more often.
  • Feeling emotional: When you're feeling down or stressed, even small things can seem like personal attacks.
  • Thinking in a certain way: Many times, our brains make us see things in a certain light, like only paying attention to things that confirm our worries or blaming others for everything.
  • What you've learned from your surroundings: Cultural norms and what you've learned from your family and friends can shape how you interpret criticism or feedback.
  • How people communicate: Sometimes, when people don't communicate clearly or use unclear language, it can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Are Women More Prone to Taking Things Personally?

Men and women can both feel hurt or upset by things others say or do. It's not accurate to say that one gender is more likely to take things personally than the other. How much someone takes things personally depends on their own personality, experiences, and other factors, not just their gender.

Sometimes, society's ideas about men and women might make people think that women are more sensitive. But in reality, it's not that simple. Everyone is different, and both men and women can have moments where they take things personally.

How to Know When You’re Taking Things Too Personally

It's important to know when you take things personally, as it can cause stress and strain in your relationships. Let's explore these signs, so you can feel more sure in handling tricky situations.

  • Feeling hurt or upset by minor criticisms or jokes
  • Reacting defensively to feedback or constructive criticism
  • Assuming negative intentions behind others' actions or comments
  • Dwelling on perceived slights or offenses for an extended period
  • Feeling excessively self-conscious or insecure in social interactions
  • Difficulty separating others' opinions from personal value or worth
  • Strained relationships due to frequent misunderstandings or conflicts
  • Persistent negative emotions, such as resentment or anger, towards others

Benefits of Taking Things Personally

While taking things personally is often seen as a negative trait, there are some potential benefits to consider. When you understand these benefits, it can provide insight into why we have this tendency and how it can sometimes serve us positively. Here are some of the advantages.

  • Understanding yourself better: When you take things personally, it can make you think about why certain things bother you, helping you learn more about yourself.
  • Motivation to improve: Feeling hurt by criticism might push you to work on yourself and become better at certain things.
  • Being more caring: If you're sensitive to how others feel, it can make you more understanding and kind towards them.
  • Learning to stand up for yourself: Dealing with personal feelings from criticism can help you learn to speak up for yourself when needed.
  • Getting stronger: Overcoming challenges from taking things personally can make you tougher and better able to handle tough situations.
  • Building closer relationships: Sharing your feelings with others can bring you closer together and make your relationships stronger.

11 Tips on How to Stop Taking Things Personally

Learning how not to take things personally can lead to improved relationships and a greater sense of emotional well-being. Whether it's criticism from others or misinterpreting harmless comments, taking things personally can often lead to unnecessary stress and hurt feelings.

If you’re curious to know how to not take things personally, let’s understand how to shift your perspective and develop healthier ways of relating to others.

1. Know yourself

Pay attention to your emotions and reactions when someone says or does something that bothers you. Understanding how you feel is the first step to figuring out why you might be taking things personally.

2. Question yourself

Sometimes, what people say or do might not actually be about you. They might be having a bad day or dealing with their own problems. So, it's essential to ask yourself if there could be other reasons behind their actions or words.

3. Think about that person’s nature

If you are wondering ‘why do I take things personally’, consider the person's usual behavior and relationship with you. If they're generally kind and supportive, their comment might not be meant to hurt you intentionally.

4. Learn from criticism

Instead of feeling hurt by criticism, try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Is there any truth to what they're saying? If so, you can use it as a chance to improve yourself.

5. Focus on the facts

Sometimes, our emotions can cloud our judgment. Try to separate the actual events from your feelings about them. This can help you see things more clearly and rationally.

6. Get stronger

Building resilience is like building a muscle—it takes practice. Find activities that help you cope with stress and adversity, like exercise, meditation, or hobbies you enjoy.

7. Set boundaries

If you want to know ‘why do I take everything personally’, decide what kind of criticism you're willing to accept and what crosses the line. Setting boundaries can protect your self-esteem and mental well-being.

8. Speak up

If something someone says or does bothers you, don't be afraid to speak up. Communicating your feelings calmly and assertively can prevent misunderstandings and strengthen your relationships.

9. Be positive

Challenge negative thoughts about yourself by focusing on your strengths and achievements. Practicing self-compassion and positive self-talk can help boost your self-esteem.

10. Talk to someone

Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist can provide support and perspective. Sometimes, just talking about what's bothering you can help you feel better.

11. Take care of yourself

If you are wondering how to not take things personally, engage in activities that promote your well-being and happiness. Doing things you enjoy and spending time with loved ones can recharge your emotional batteries and help you feel more resilient in the face of criticism or negativity.

How Now&Me can help

If you're struggling with how to not take things personally, Now&Me is here to help. Our online platform provides a safe space for you to express yourself and connect with others who understand what you're going through. You can chat with qualified professionals in counseling sessions starting at INR 30/- and access articles, guides, and forums tailored to help you overcome this challenge.

Plus, our supportive community is ready to listen and offer encouragement along the way. Download the Now&Me app today and start your journey towards feeling more confident and resilient in your interactions with others.

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