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September 26, 2007

Do You Take Things Personally?

By Alicia Socorro

Have you ever accidentally cut someone off in traffic, apologized as
best you could, and yet the person could not let it go and continued to
follow and high beam you until you finally head in different directions?

Or, is that what you’re like?

It seems that we all take things personally nowadays and there really is no reason for us to behave in this manner. It turns us into angry, rude women when that’s not who we really are.

But the question that comes to my mind (and it comes to my mind often) is why? Why have we become so quick to take things personally when the “rude” waiter who served us doesn’t know us from a hole in the wall?

Women take things personally

Perhaps a deeper look into the mind of today’s woman will help us resolve this issue and help us to become more patient and less aggressive when someone does something that we don’t like.

The following are possible reasons why you might be taking everything that happens throughout the day as a personal attack and what you can do instead to change your mindset.

Don’t confuse kindness with weakness

A lot of us are afraid to be nice to strangers because we’re afraid that if we emit a kind demeanor, they will think us weak and in turn treat us as such. Although it might sound like a smart preemptive strike, why would you want to walk into any situation with a negative attitude?

Be nice to everyone and only when you are disrespected should you alter your behavior. You know you are not weak, but it’s not necessary to prove it to everyone you encounter throughout the day.

Look at it from their perspective
For all you know, the waiter who messed up your order recently had a death in the family and just can’t concentrate. And the guy who cut you off? Maybe his wife is in labor at the hospital.

The point is that it’s not about you: Everyone has their own set of problems and dilemmas to contend with and their first priority is not always to be considerate to the strangers in their midst. To make sure you don’t take things personally at this point, resolve that they did what they did because they have their own issues.

Give people the benefit of the doubt
I know many a woman who, after someone has apologized after offending them in some way, simply will not let up with the anger and frustration toward that person.

But the bottom line is that we all make mistakes and a little understanding would serve us well. If someone steps on your foot by accident and apologizes, don’t conclude that they don’t like your face and take things personally: It may really have been an accident. Let it go and move on.

Chill out
If you’re wound up tight and stressed anyway, getting cut off in traffic or stepped on on the bus will only aggravate you further. And then, not only will you take things personally, you’ll probably overreact to what’s happening.

Learn to take a moment to put things in your life in perspective each day. This will make the minor irritations of everyday life seem less serious and who knows, you might even begin to laugh off trivial offenses.

Confront the situation
If your colleague Maria is constantly giving you “dirty looks” and you have absolutely no idea why she would be upset with you, the only way to get answers is by confronting her.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an attack situation; you want to resolve the issue (if there actually is one) rather than further complicate the situation. Take Maria aside and ask her if everything is all right. This gives her the opportunity to let you know if there really is a problem or if perhaps you’re misreading her and she’s not upset with you at all.

Don’t take things personally

And there it is; easy ways to not take things personally. After all, everyone has their own story and you won’t always play a relevant role in them.

Until next time, don’t take it personal.

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