A message to those who "take things personal"

You take things too personal!  This is the dreaded exclamation I’ve heard several times throughout my life.  But what does it really mean?  Often times when I’ve asked I’ve received descriptors like:  too sensitive, too emotional, too caring, too concerned, too anxious, too stressed, and too upset.  I need to “get out of my head” and “stop thinking so much.”  While I didn’t always understand the difference between the assessors opinion of my behavior, I understood that the assessor considered my actions to be off balance.     

True to form, my response would be to accept their feedback, taking it to heart.  I’d think through the scenario that led to the dreadful assertion.  I’d replay the dialog or situation over and over in my head…he said this….and then I said... Most often what I would conclude was, the situation warranted my reaction. Actually, I’d end up confused, trying to understand how the assessor could possibly not understand my behavior.  Any of this sound like you?  If so, what I can say for a fact is, it’s not ok!

Taking things personal means that you are sensitive to the words, actions and inaction of others.  Rather than immediately focusing on and putting a negative spin on the word “sensitive” let’s think through what that word really means.  No, I am not going to add the definition.  I’d like for you to put the word in a non-threatening sentence.  For example, I can’t use certain perfume because I am sensitive to fragrances.  My sister can only use one laundry detergent because she has sensitive skin.  When put in context, these aren’t negatives, they are facts.  The fact is, if you are like me, you are sensitive to the words, actions and inaction of others. 

We’ve all heard “everything is ok in moderation.”  That said, being sensitive, emotional, caring, concerned, anxious, stressed, upset and thoughtful, are all ok and normal.  It’s when we’ve hit the “too” or “overly” point, that we’ve stepped out of our own self-care and are giving our power away.    Most often, we’re giving power to something or someone who doesn’t deserve it.  Perhaps there are situations from your past/present which contributed towards taking things personally.  Perhaps the people who’ve thrown this statement at you are insecure bullies.  Understand that all of this can be true AND your reaction is still not ok.  You are important.  Take your power back! 

I love to read and I’d recommend the following to readers who can use help in this area:

  • Quite:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Boundaries:  Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine
  • Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick
  • Sometimes You Win – Sometimes You Learn by John Maxwell
  • Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood

Understand, taking your power back is a choice that you will have to make.  Often times it will need to be a recurring action until it becomes habit.  Keep in mind there are people in your life who struggle with their own insecurities and feel powerful when you begin taking things personally.  Don’t nourish negativity.   Live Powerfully!

Tameaka Shelton