I remember always being confused by the saying “don’t take it personal.” I would always think to myself (and sometimes express out loud in frustration), “how can I not take it personal when you are speaking to me, about me?!” That’s as personal as it gets, right?
Recently, though, I’ve gained new perspective on what that saying can actually mean.
It’s almost instinct to think of how an interaction with someone else makes you feel, whether or not it is convenient for you or if you get anything out of it at all. What would our families and communities look like if, instead, we thought of others before we thought of ourselves? Without thinking of ourselves?
I’m not suggesting that we put ourselves on the back burner indefinitely, but that we simply minimize ourselves and make the feelings and needs of others more important at times.
Now you might be thinking, “I do that all the time! I put my kids and husband before myself daily!” If so, then they are lucky to have you. But are you doing that in action or is it emotionally as well. Are you less likely to be attentive if you’re having a rough day? Do you become frustrated easily if your kids are not behaving or your husband didn’t do what you asked of him? How about when friends don’t respond the way you need or want them to? I know I’m guilty of it all.
In those moments it can be difficult to see the situation from the other persons perspective. A cranky child may be a tired or hungry child. An inattentive husband may be a tired or stressed husband. And an unsupportive friend may need support herself.
By minimizing ourselves at times when it’s most easy to be consumed with thoughts of “me” we can step back and see the bigger picture. We can choose a more appropriate response to situations rather than reacting off the cuff. You may even find that your anxiety or stress is minimized by taking the focus off of yourself.
Now when I hear,”don’t take this personal, but…”, I try not to think so much about what is being said about me. I try to minimize myself and focus on the feelings and perspective of the other person. I’m a work in progress, but it certainly has helped me to improve relationships and not get worked up over certain things.
Give it a try! Let me know if minimizing yourself works for you too!