On Taking Things Personally

There is a direct connection between the power of taking something in a personal way and the extent of its destruction. 

When a person is under its influence – the dearest person for him – becomes a bitter enemy.

The point is that what causes a person to take something personally, is not the power of the stimuli or the insult, it could be something quite marginal. Anyone at any time could be drawn into it. 

When you take something personally about yourself, you become a zero, nothing, the lowest there is. And when you take someone else personally – he becomes the devil.

It is important to note that most people who take something personally, will not externalize it and keep it deep inside. Unless they use it to attack a person they are taking it personally with.

Taking something personally is a state, a state of mind, a state of being.

And when the state is over- nothing is left. In fact, this state is not real at all, it doesn’t have to do with who you are, what you did, to what was done to you, and it is completely trivial. But you are under an attack of mania. 

With it, not an insult, or being hurt or treated unfairly – have to do with taking things personally. While taking things personally is more like a temporary kind of madness that took over.

When you are hurt or insulted – there is still a world out there, but when you take something personally – there is no world, everything is buried under a huge pile of taking things personally.

Everything shrinks to this tiny dot in which a great tornado is going wild.

Most people will fight with you to their last drop of blood, saying that they did not take anything personally. People are not aware at all that most of the time they move from taking one thing personally – to another. (If they admitted that they are in it, it would only increase). By the way, people take almost everything personally.

It is impossible to disagree about something, anything, with someone, in an argument, without taking it personally against that other.

No doubt, this is the greatest curse. 

(Our life would be better without it…).

How To Help Someone Who Takes Everything Personally

Some examples:

Let’s say I’m driving really slowly because I’m trying to find a specific address. So the person in the car behind me starts honking and flashing their headlights at me.

How do I respond?

I take it personally.

I know I shouldn’t. But it just happens.

Or, let’s say someone cancels a work-related appointment with me at the last minute. 

How do I respond?

Again, I take it personally, even though it’s professional. I feel I must not be important enough to them.

I give keynote speeches for a living, and I really like drawing my audience into my story. But the very moment that I see someone not paying attention and look at their phone, I take it personally.

Of course, I’m not the only person who takes these kinds of things personally.

Imagine you invite a friend to the movies and she replies: “Oh sorry, I have to work.” But then you see her on social media having dinner with friends that very night.

Or imagine you worked hard on a project, you’re really proud of the end result, but the only feedback you get is criticism. So you come home and want to share this terrible experience. But while you’re telling your story, your partner walks away to switch on the TV.

But all this don’t have to be taking it personally, it could be simply a hurt, or an offence, but the next example is a pure taking it personally:

Another enlarged example:

A waitress in restaurant sent a delivery order, the person who got the dish wasn’t satisfied, he called the waitress and complained,(he doesn’t like the dish)  instead of apologizing and offering a replacement or a compensation, she took it personally, as though she was to blame, and she blamed the client for leaving the dish outside for too long, which was a wrong accusation, refusing to refund, arguing, putting it on the client, (all in complete opposite to how her boss would have wanted the staff to give service) and all because she took the dissatisfied client personally (when in fact the dish had nothing to do with her, [she did not cook it…]).

Another even larger example:

At the beginning of the 20th century small groups of young Jewish men and women from middle and Eastern Europe – got together and decided to establish a complete and total commune, each one was called: a Kibbutz.  It was settled in deserted areas and in unsettled areas.

And they started from nothing and built prorogues thriving places in Israel. It has everything in it, from a communal dining room, to a laundry, school, kindergarten, kibbutz assemblies in which everything was decided by vote. No one was in a higher position than the other, no one had private money of his own. Complete equality. The children belonged to everyone. And so they believed that they were constricting heaven on earth of equality, mutual help and brotherhood.

This was so for dozens of years, the source of pride and proof that it is possible.

Until in the 80th it all collapsed.  

And today every ex member has a private car, private house, his own place of work, his own kindergarten and school for his kids, meals he cooks and eats at home. No more communal dining room, communal cultural center, a communal children’s home- everything is private. Everyone to himself and to his life. The idea of everyone for all and all for everyone – made space for the original egocentric reality of the city.

What happened?

They took about 200 enthusiastic young naïve, romantic people who believe in the human brotherhood and put them in a closed place, that’s all.

Just they did not take into account one tiny virus called: taking things personally, and it penetrated, and it spread and caused a horrible epidemic in human relations that destroyed their fabric till the very bottom, Until there was no trust, no wish for cooperation – was left. Everything was poisoned till the very foundation.

Their life was based totally on the idea of being very close to each other and have a great dependence on each other, believing so much in mutual care and support. But the real possibility of their actualization has completely collapsed.

And it has collapsed because of just one virus: Taking the other and what is happening between you and the others –personally and then everything has collapsed.

So, what could be done?

Techniques to help with taking things personally:

(2 comments about 2 techniques to help at the early stages of taking something personally):

1. It is a technique to operate it at the very early stages of tracing the moment of taking something personally.

(Prevention is always higher and more effective then cure)

 It is a Guided imagery exercise: you imagine yourself standing behind your shoulder – observing yourself reacting to the stimuli that cause you to take it personally, and describing to yourself inwardly, or asking yourself; what is happening inside this person you are observing? This distance might help you not to internalize the personal impact.

2.  It is also a Guided imagery exercise; if taking things personally entered anyway, what you can do after you’ve been entered into, under the influence of P.I. – Is three guided and non-stop imaginative exercises (even a few days…): first a huge wall painted in vivid colors that separates you from the cause, along with it you will add a throwing it behind the back, but if it penetrates the body and you already feel it physically, then you push down. Until it comes out. If you persist, it must work, and over time it will be more effective. I’m doing this to this day, without it, I couldn’t have survived.

On Taking Things Personally -2

There is a huge amount of freedom that comes when you take nothing personally.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Not taking things personally is a superpower.

James Clear

Not taking things personally is a true sign of maturity.

Robert Celner
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