It’s human nature to be loved and respected by our fellow men. We humans, as social animals, naturally feel good when someone praises and says something positive about us.
Similarly, when someone criticizes us, we become sensitive and feel like we aren’t good as we thought we would be. Even though the comments might actually be offensive, some of us are more often hurt than others. This might be when you overreact and take things to your heart.
Such people usually receive the advice, “don not take things personally.” They are told this to prevent them from being hurt or misunderstanding the remarks as their personality flaws.
Anyone can feel this way. And if you feel the same, I’ll help you develop the skills to take criticism positively and make you able to withstand tough censure.
Read on to discover how to maintain composure during such encounters. And have the upper hand by understanding the dynamics of being offended personally.
The Difference Between Feedback and Criticism:
Feedback is given with the intention of helping the other person perform better. Feedback is usually more beneficial than criticism, even when the critic is not trying to be helpful. This is because feedbacks inspire and help you grow more.
Research shows that constructive feedback can boost the performance of the recipient. But astonishingly, people actually underestimate how much others crave it and want to be.
On the other hand, criticism can be detrimental to your personal well-being. Criticism is, most of the time, unsolicited advice that a person might not be expecting.
It is rarely explained in a positive way and is often found to belittle the person on the receiving end. A study found that destructive criticism made people angrier and stressful. Furthermore, this made them more resistant and avoidant for disagreements in the future.
How Can Criticism be Misunderstood
The difference between both can be subtle, and they are more closely tied together when you think of it.
People may criticize your work in a number of ways. They might not understand how to offer helpful criticism. However, they might be concerned and genuinely interested in you and want to see you succeed.
Criticism might seem like an insult or a personal attack on your skills for a moment. But it is crucial to avoid taking criticism personally as a critic might not have the intention to hurt you specifically. He might be focusing on the problem instead.
If that’s the situation, you won’t be the only one to experience criticism, so try not to take it personally. People around you, including your coworkers, might even be in the same boat as you are.
So it might feel embarrassing to take undue criticism for something you might not have done. Hence, whenever you receive criticism, don’t take it your heart and try to find out the positive side of it.
Attitude Towards Criticism
If you are impeccable with your word, if you don’t take anything personally, if you don’t make assumptions, if you always do your best, then you are going to have a beautiful life. You are going to control your life one hundred percent.Miguel Ruiz
How you respond to criticism may strengthen your confidence by responding positively. Or shatter it completely, leading to irritation, worry, or even aggressiveness if your response is negative.
A good response to criticism requires self-worth and assertiveness skills. Knowing the difference between constructive and harmful criticism should make it easier for you to react to any comments you get.
The Ultimate Impact
Taking things personally makes us more likely to get offended. As a result, we could experience personal insults and feel the need to guard ourselves constantly. Discovering pleasure in life may be difficult and stressful.
But if we try and don’t take stuff personally, we can be more open to advice and criticism. As a consequence, interactions and discussions could get better.
What May Cause You to Take Things Personally?
Many reasons can cause you to take things too seriously. Even though it’s normal to pay attention to what others think of us, but the energy we spend on it should not drain us or overwhelm us to function properly.
If you find yourself to be continuously taking things personally, then the following factors might be responsible:
1. Low Self-Regard
People who don’t value themselves enough are emotionally dependent on the opinions of others. They depend on how others define them.
If you doubt yourself the same way, you are prone to taking things personally.
2. Social Perfectionism
Social perfectionism means that you become intolerant whenever people see and criticize your flaws and mistakes. To appear perfect in the eyes of others, social perfectionists are constantly anxious about what people think of them. Thus, they take things personally when they are criticized.
3. Highly Sensitive
Highly emotional and sensitive people are prone to feel emotions intensely. They are deeply influenced by the opinions of others and tend to take things personally.
4. Negative Self-Talk and Opinions
While it’s natural that we constantly try to underestimate ourselves and push for constant improvement.
But sometimes, we can get carried away and be excessively hard on ourselves. Through constant negative self-talk constant, we are used to feeling low. So when someone criticizes us, we believe the comments to be true and take them personally.
5. Lack of Assertiveness
From childhood, we are taught to behave nicely and kindly and to put others before ourselves. But once you constantly deny your own needs and keep this up, you are accustomed to ignoring yourself.
This lack of assertiveness causes you to have low self-esteem and passivity. So to quit things personally, you need to start standing up for yourself and eventually, you’ll find it easier to deal with stress.
6. Being in the Wrong Company
It is commonly known that you are the average of the 5 people you spend time with. So, if your company involves people who are highly manipulative, disrespectful and hypercritical, then you end up treating yourself the same way.
To stop taking heat and criticism from such people, you need to set up boundaries and put an end to toxic relationships. It is easier said than done, but it’s important if you want to keep your mental peace.
7. Social Anxiety
People who have social phobia are afraid to put themselves out there. They constantly worry that they will be judged, embarrassed or humiliate themselves when they come in contact with others. Such people are more inclined to take criticism as personal.
8. Having False Assumptions and Insecurities
Having false assumptions and insecurities about yourself can be problematic when it comes to taking heat.
You feel inadequate even though that’s not the real situation. To recondition such thoughts, you must become conscious and self-aware.
9. Trauma or Neglect
If you had some heart-wrenching event that changed the course of your life, then it’s natural to have feelings that the world is against you. Similarly, being neglected by your peers or family can have the same effect on your mind.
Both these things over-sensitize the person, and they end up taking everything personally that comes their way.
Signs Showing You Take Things Too Personally
To know how the opinions of others are making your mental health poor, you should look for the following signs.
- You don’t have proper personal boundaries
- You tend to neglect yourself and value the opinions of others
- Your emotions are not under your influence
- You are short-tempered and easily agitated
- You can’t so no to people
- You ruin your whole day after your receive criticism or admonishment
- You don’t know the difference between a character flaw and a mistake
- You like to please other people without any specific reason
- You overthink about past scenarios a lot
- You consider yourself inferior to others and don’t communicate at the same level of respect
10 Ways to Stop Taking Things Too Personally?
If you have any of the signs mentioned above and want to stop caring about these little things, then you should pay close attention to the following tips:
1. Be Conscious of Your Behavior
Identifying when you’re taking things too personally is the very first step. After somebody says or does anything that bothers you, be conscious of your emotions and reactions.
You may have been taking matters too personally if you find yourself becoming angry or defensive.
2. Don’t Stress if it is NOT Directed Toward You
It’s not always about you. Sometimes people, unfortunately, have a horrible day and dump burdens on other people.
They could be more concerned with getting things done instead of gaslighting you. In that case, forgiving things would be easier when you recognize it isn’t really about you.
3. Learn to LET IT GO
“ It always seems impossible until it’s done.”Nelson Mandela
Remember that not all things are a massive deal. Look at the bigger picture and quit taking everything personally.
Life will be simpler if you stop being so defensive and take other people’s words less seriously. Let go of the pressure to be elegant and look for humor in the circumstances.
4. Focusing on Yourself
When you are not focusing on yourself and let your negative thoughts run the show, you might end up wasting hours ruminating on the negative words said by others. To break this cycle of negative thinking, it’s better to be focused on tasks that matter the most.
Instead of pondering over such thoughts, uplift your mood by completing your pending tasks. If not, then take a stroll in the park or do something you love. Engaging in your hobbies or productive activities will free your mind from harmful criticism, and you’ll adapt to keep such things from affecting your personal life.
4. Practicing Social Skills
By practicing and improving your social skills, you can create a healthy environment around yourself. You’ll learn more about people and will be better able to understand the motives behind their actions.
So even if you get into a difficult confrontation or get in the crossfire of hurtful comments, you can take it as a learning opportunity rather than taking it personally.
5. Experiment with Detachment
The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune.Miguel Angel Ruiz
This strategy might just be helpful when you’re finding it challenging not to take things too personally. Being detached means not feeling emotionally engaged in the outcome or the circumstance.
It suggests you are neither emotionally involved in the outcome nor you care. Although it might be difficult to execute, it’s important to practice it.
6. Ask Someone for Advice
Speaking with someone can help if you’re experiencing trouble controlling your inclination to take things personally. Discuss with a trusted person, family, or therapist.
They can motivate you and assist in your psychological treatment. It may seem challenging to overcome the habit, yet it is achievable. You can start to move on by recognizing doing this and learning to disentangle yourself from it.
7. Overcoming Personalization
Personalization means that you make yourself responsible for the things that are out of your control. You feel guilty and shameful for events even if you had no role in them.
This eventually gives other people access to your feelings. It would be best if you didn’t let them dictate how you feel by giving them that power.
To overcome these negative feelings, you must reframe your thoughts and take a rational approach every time. Instead of blaming yourself, you should re-evaluate and see why might a certain setback happened.
Using this approach will prevent you from taking things to yourself and help you find a logical solution to every problem.
8. Stay calm
Lastly, it is important to stay calm in these situations. Try to recognize comments that have been said and correct any inaccurate information.
Do NOT feel guilty about yourself for false reasons. Remember, it can happen to anyone. Just focus on being sincere regarding the criticism’s contents and take the emotional aspect out of it.
9. Practice Empathetic listening
You can build and enhance your relations through active listening, also known as empathetic listening.
Listening helps you better comprehend what is being said from both intellectual and emotional standpoints since it paints a more accurate depiction of the situation.
The key is to figure out how to blend psychological behavior with sympathetic listening skills to reduce confrontation.
There are a few methods you can use to practice empathetic listening:
- Simply nodding or replying “I see” or “I understand” would be sufficient.
- Try to understand what the critic is trying to say. Pay close attention to both the meaning behind the words as well as the underlying sentiments behind them.
- Imagine that you are a mirror. Positively construe the speaker’s thoughts and sentiments.
10. Increase Your Confidence
Another reason why people fail to overcome negative external talk is personal insecurities. These insecurities build up gradually over time due to constant bullying, psychological abuse, or comparison with others.
So they become more sensitive and thoughtful of other people’s opinions and end up taking things personally.
However, when you develop a great relationship with yourself, you break free from these shackles. Developing yourself personally and improving yourself day by day gives a boost to your confidence.
And when you see the results of your efforts to become better than others, you gradually stop thinking about what other people have to say about you.
Final Words to Stop You From Taking Things Personally
In short, criticism, rejection, and mental assaults are tough to handle. And they require moral character and strength of determination to handle them. Developing consciousness and practicing social skills are key elements in regaining control over how you respond.
Therefore, next time anything happens that you see as a personal assault, consider starting to take a breather and determine whether there is another perspective to explore. I am sure that by following all the advice in this article, you’ll be more mentally strong and able to take things less personally.