Don’t take anything personally, because you are not a person. You may feel like a person right now, but this is not true. You are beyond your personality, you are not what you think about yourself. What you think about yourself is just the average of what others think about you and what you accepted to be true. However, your beliefs about truth won’t change truth itself.
Unfortunately, I know this problem very well, because my mom takes almost everything personally. She gets offended so easily that I have to be very careful about what I say to her or how I say it. Even just a slight negativity on my part will trigger her defensive reactions immediately, and she will either go into a fit of fury, or feel aggrieved and close off all communications.
Whenever something negative happens around her, she believes it to be an attack against her. She feels traumatized after such events for days, and thinks about the ways she could retaliate. Her self-image is so weak and hypersensitive, that every small criticism is like a needle stabbed right into her heart. It’s not surprising then that she tends to get too emotional and overreact many situations.
Before we try to solve this problem, we have to go back to its roots. It all starts in early childhood, when the ego is still just in development. A baby is still in unconscious oneness with Existence, there are no borders between him and the rest of the world. From the baby’s perspective, everything is about him, he takes literally everything absolutely personally.
A young child’s worldview is 100% self-centered. When things don’t go according to his wishes, he becomes frustrated and throws fits or becomes angry at the world. Only slowly does he learn that not everything is about him, and he can’t control everybody. This is how the personality appears, forming the border between him and others.
So in one sense, somebody who takes things too personally has an under-developed ego. Even as an adult, he or she behaves just like a child in kindergarten. From outside, it may seem that his ego is too strong, but in reality the problem is that his ego is too weak. If you’re such a person, you need to understand better that not everything is about you. Just like you are not responsible for the happiness and suffering of others, you can’t make others responsible for your happiness and suffering.
If somebody criticizes, judges or disregards you, most of the time it’s about them. They may just have a bad day, or they may just treat everybody else the same way they were treated. Either way, you should feel compassion towards them rather than getting upset. Shift out from your self-centered perspective for a moment, and try to imagine yourself in their shoes. It’s their problem, so why would you take it on your shoulders, when you have nothing to do with it?
They are probably also self-centered, and want to control you according to their own values. Becoming a true adult means developing your own values, a healthy personality and taking responsibility for your own actions. But a hypersensitive person has not grown up yet for this task. He is trying to blame and control others failing to see the faults in himself.
Taking things too personally is a dysfunctional behavior, because instead of creating a connection, it alienates people. By adopting this mentality, you unconsciously hope that by showing how hurt you are when people don’t behave how you would like, they will feel sorry for you and change their behavior. Sometimes it does work, but it has grave long-term consequences.
It teaches people to please you, to be fake with you, to never say what they think about you, even if it would serve your own growth. The people who love you don’t criticize you to hurt you, they want to give helpful advice but you take it as criticism. You adopt a victim mentality in which you feel sorry for yourself, mulling over how unfairly others and life itself treat you.
But ultimately, this type of personality is just one from the many others. Your personality is just a story you’re telling yourself about yourself over and over again until you believe it. It’s not really about the degree to which you take things personally. It’s about believing or doubting anything that relates to you as a person, an individual being separate from existence.
It’s not enough to overcome taking things personally, you have to transcend your personality altogether. To help you with this, I created a separate video titled: “How to kill your ego”.
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