I’ve heard it mentioned a few times, “what someone else thinks about you is none of your business.” This makes sense when you put it into the context that we are all living in our own reality.
It’s all about perception, what people’s world view is and what biases they have formed from growing up and living in their own world. We tend to project our own experiences & awareness onto other people. It’s how we take things personally; we assign meaning to things said to us (or about us) from our own frame of reference. It’s impossible to know what others are thinking and where they are coming from.
Don Miguel Ruiz explains it well in his book The Four Agreements: “Don’t Take Anything Personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” The other three agreements include, Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Make Assumptions, and Always Do Your Best.
Not convinced yet? Merely Me explains it another way:
- Stop giving your power away
- Limit your interactions with toxic people
- Ask for clarification
- Know what pushes your buttons
- Realize that some people say stupid things
- Use the three strikes rule when necessary
- Focus on the positive relationships in your life
Clear communications and firm boundaries give us the tools necessary not to take things personally. If you don’t understand what someone means, ask them for clarification. You may have to limit your exposure to some of the toxic people in your life. It may be true that they are affecting your mental health and attacking you personally (usually passive/aggressively) and it is not your job to be their punching bag. Don’t give your power to them by letting them control how you feel.
Most of all, monitor your own feelings. There are some days when all of us struggle with feeling down and particularly touchy. Think about why you are feeling this way, did you not get enough sleep, have an argument with someone, miss your favourite show, wished it was sunny outside? Chances are good that something said innocently on a “tough” day will hit you more sensitively than on a day when you feel on top of things. Stay on top of your own “reality” and give up trying to guess what others’ are feeling on any given day, that’s their business.