You mean, you don’t…like me?! (How NOT to take it personally.)

Have you ever been taken aback by a random comment or action that, on the surface, seemed to be a direct insult? Or maybe it was something outright hurtful. Well, duh. We’ve all been there—wounded—at one time or another. But it doesn’t have to be that way. No, really.

You all know the expression: you can’t control what other people do or say, but you can control how you react to it. Well, I say, take that advice one step further and don’t react to shit people sling AT ALL.  That’s right, no reaction. Be an elastic wall, baby, and bounce that evil blather back out into the cosmos where the big bad Milky Way will suck it into a Black Hole forever.

A couple illuminating random examples: You hate my blog? Great, don’t go away mad, just go away. (Boing! Love that elastic!) Wait, what? You think my laugh is annoying? Good for you, you have an opinion, go deploy it somewhere else. Hahahahahahaha! (Boing-BOING!)

Okay, that was a tad bitchy. Here’s the thing, though, I want *you* to cultivate this NOT taking things personally perspective in your own life. To help us along, I begged (and got lucky enough to receive) guidance from motivational guru Christine Kane who is allowing me to reprint her 12 proactive steps to achieve this state of self-awareness and peace. WOOT!

Note: This blog post runs longer than my usual ones, but I think it’s worth the extra time. Hope you agree! Also, not all of her examples apply to everyone. Take what’s useful in a broad sense and enjoy! :)

How to NOT Take Things Personally: A Practical Guide by Christine Kane

1 – SWSWSWSW

This stands for “Some will. Some won’t. So what? Someone’s waiting!” It means that some people are going to love what you do. Then, there will be those who visit your blog, look at your paintings, listen to your songs, read your poems, review your resume – and they’ll shrug and say, “Yeah, not so much.” So what? Somewhere out there someone is waiting for your gift. And if you have to keep working on your craft, or wait a little while, that’s okay!

2 – Remember that people are busy

People are busy. They may not have time for you. Young musicians complain because they try to book a venue, but their emails weren’t answered. They give up. And they get resentful. I tell them the same thing: People are busy. It’s not personal. They just don’t have time to answer every email.

3 – Email is instant. Use accordingly.

Email creates fabulous opportunities to take things personally. (Blog comments, too.) The quickness of our culture has removed much of the etiquette that some of us would normally expect. Most people just “fire it off.”

If you get an email that hurts or feels personal, take an hour or so to chill out. Then re-read the email in a kind narrator’s voice. Be careful with the temptation to over-dramatize someone else being in a hurry with his email or comment. For some people, email is quick and easy. It is simply a tool – not a way to make you feel okay about yourself!

4 – Begin each day with presence and proactive-ness

How you begin your day often sets the tone for the day. If you start the day by opening your email and launching your browser, you are opening yourself up to external stuff – some of which may trigger you. Start instead with creative and proactive activities. Some possibilities: meditation, yoga, going to the gym, writing a blog, writing a song/poem, doing morning pages, writing down goals and intents, creating your day in advance. Start with a strong foundation of honoring yourself each day.

5 – Create a “Good Mojo” file

Create a “Good Mojo” folder in your email. Create a file called “Good Mojo” in your file cabinet. Fill these files with kind emails and loving cards from friends or co-workers or fans. If you’re taking things personally, you may as well rummage through these files to find the good messages, the words and cards from people who love what you do. Start keeping this folder and use it when you need it.

6 – Be willing to look like an idiot: Communicate

Recently one of my best friends and I planned to meet each other at a certain time in city we were both visiting. I called her when I was on the way, and in the conversation she said that I could “just go shopping outside of her hotel and she’d come down and meet me later.” Every part of my being shouted, “She’s blowing me off!” I hung up the phone feeling hurt. My drama-queen story-tellers were in the wings putting on their costumes. Before they got on stage, I called her back and I said, “Okay, I’m not trying to be pushy or weird here, but I feel like we had these plans and I don’t understand what happened.” She interrupted and said, “Oh, I’m so glad you called back to clear that up! I got the sense that you needed time and space, and I was trying to let you to have that!” Because I got a little brave and was willing to look a bit needy, we both got to laugh at our miscommunication.

If something feels strange or out of balance, check in with the other person. Take the responsibility. Say, “This may sound strange, but…” Or “I’m afraid I may have said something out of line. Is that possible?” Most people – not all – will be grateful that you cared enough to clear the air.

Note: This is not an appropriate technique in certain professional situations. If, for instance, someone has rejected your work for a gallery or a showcase, refer to #1 above. Don’t call a gallery owner (or promoter or record producer) back and say, “I sense you had some hostility towards me and I’m just checking in because it really hurt my feelings.” Not good.

7 – Beware of collusion

In the situation above, I could’ve chosen not to call my friend back. I could’ve called another friend and vented. I could’ve said, “I’ve come all this way to meet her and what does she say…?” The other friend could get hooked into my story, and we’d waste a whole tonage of energy investing in it. Not worth it.

TAKE NOTE: Colluding is the best way to perpetuate the pattern of taking things personally. It takes a deep and committed discipline to shift out of this pattern. That’s because much of what we call friendship in our culture is little more than disliking the same people and staying stuck in our own versions of the truth and requiring that our friends agree with us. Collusion is rounding up people who believe your own illusions. Stop it.

8 – Make a list and move to the next thing

Many of us strategize for the one big thing that will be our “saving grace.” This is a veritable petri dish for taking things personally. You apply for a scholarship to one MFA program. You send your article off to one magazine. You ask only one producer to make your CD. There’s a better way here. Before you send yourself out into the world – be it resume, scholarship, grant, producer, publication – make a list of many options. List all of the publications, grants, employers, options, etc. Move down the list if someone says no. Find that someone who’s waiting.

9 – Shut up and listen

When you listen and quietly observe, you often find that you had it all wrong. You may actually see humor in how you can take everything so personally. Sit down on the floor, lean against a wall and quietly listen to your own breathing. Or, when you’re in a conversation with someone else, stop and listen. Really deeply listen. Try practicing this in every day conversations that aren’t emotional. This will prepare you for moments when you are taking something personally.

10 – Use unemotional language when you communicate

Phrases like “Well, you’re the one who…” and “You took that all wrong!” are inflammatory and do little to help a situation. Try to use language that’s not about the emotions and not about pointing fingers. “I think I didn’t communicate this well so let me try again.” Or, “I’m not sure I understand you. Can we discuss this on the phone?” The challenge is to communicate with unemotional language. Kind of a “here’s the facts ma’am” approach. Write out your desired outcome for the conversation. Get clear inside yourself, and then talk with the other person.

11 – Eat enough. Sleep enough.

Being tired or hungry will always make you more sensitive or irritable. Don’t try to function well if you’re hungry or if you haven’t slept well.

12 – Let the deeper goal be what motivates you

Who you become on your journey is far more meaningful than what happens to you. If you learn how to get beyond taking things personally by witnessing and then choosing a different response, you will eventually become unshakable. You can lose all your money; you can get rotten reviews of your recent work after being lauded for the last one; you can get fired tomorrow – but you can’t lose who you are. You can’t lose your essence. When you become someone who is clear and centered, you will have the tools to move through life no matter what happens externally.

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Christine Kane is the Mentor to People Who are Changing the World. She helps women and men Uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly Uplevel You eZine goes out to over 20,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at www.christinekane.com.

—————-

Okay, you guys, it’s Misty again…so what tips on this list are you ready to tackle? Do you have any other tips?

Comments

  1. This is great advice, Misty. I am getting better at listening: when someone blows up, I try to remember to find out what’s really going on. Surprisingly often, a situation elsewhere in their life is bugging them and I was the recipient of their venting. If I can get them to step out of their loop, their dynamic is changed. And I look like the good guy.

    • Ah, you are so wise, Ana! I am learning to apply this very same stepping-back tactic when it comes to my children, and it really helps me help them learn how to be more self-aware. And everybody wins! :)

  2. Love the idea of a good mojo file. I am a short fuse, loud bang kind of gal so the shut up and listen tactic is one I’ll be putting in my pocket for when I need it. :)

    • I know, Avery, the good mojo file is awesome! I started one in graduate school in preparation for the pounding I knew I was going to get on my Oral Exam. Keeping your eye on the positives really helps.

      “I am a short fuse, loud bang kind of gal” —- I LOVE this BTW! LOL

  3. Great post! Loved it-especially the first one. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. larissahoffman says:

    Great post & wonderful advice!

  5. bellwriter says:

    Excellent. excellent, excellent!

  6. Josie Matthews says:

    Oh did I need this post this week Swagger gang! Work has been SOOO stressful! Im in a busy office where ALL the good and bad mojo of the building comes muddling through. Its so hard not to be swept up in some of the negativity and become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

    I personally like Christine’s ‘dont take things personally’. We are not the center of everyone’s universe! We waste precious time and energy thinking we are ‘the cause’ when really, the other person may have just had a bad day themselves!
    Also, Collusion! Nice word. Sometimes, I’m guilty of ‘colluding’ all over the place ! Yuck! I dont like myself at all when that happens. I become this shallow, spiteful person just trying to find someone to soothe my silly pride. I’m typing that one up and posting it on the wall!!
    Love this post, Misty! Here’s to Chickswagger Mojo! Salute! (or is it Salud?) Thanks Christine Kane!

  7. Truly insightful! Thank you so much for giving us this today. It is so easy to get caught up in negative situations even though out intent is the opposite. Treating someone as you’d wish to be treated is also a strong motivation to be rational and frankly kind. We’ve all been on both sides of this. The idea is to step above or beyond it.

  8. Oh, lest I be remiss, a HUGE thank you to Christine Kane and Katie Heflin, Customer Happiness Guru at Uplevel YOU!! BIG HUGS!! :D

  9. SWSWSWSW. This is similar to my favourite response to someone who’s trying to convince me of something by offending me–What YOU think of me is none of MY business. The final one is my favourite: let the deeper goal be what motivates you. Thank you Christine and Misty for a thought-provoking post!

    • “What YOU think of me is none of MY business.” – OMG, I LOVE that! Pure awesome!

      And yes, her last point about the deeper goal being the motivator is so great. Sometimes it’s so hard to see the big picture, especially when we feel overwhelmed by our to-dos and shoulda dones.

      Thanks so much, Joan, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with us! :)

  10. Found your blog through YARWA–loved your voice and loved the advice. I’m referring some others to this post for sure. BTW, I have a sister named Misty! Just thought I’d share since it’s not a common name, well, at least where we live. She always complained growing up that only stripers and unicorns are named Misty, lol. I always liked it though! ~Cheers:)

    • “only stripers and unicorns are named Misty” — LOL! I’m not a stripper but I plan to play one in a book some day… :D One time I read on one of those Baby Name message boards that only people who want to give their girls a complex name them Misty. But don’t worry, I didn’t take it personally! :D

      Glad you found us, Jamie, and much obliged on the shout out. Take care!

  11. Mary Roya says:

    Great article. I know that I don’t like to be around people that complain. This is very helpful.

    • Hi Mary, thanks for popping by Chick Swagger. Yes, complainers are a drag! That’s why I always love to hear from you because you always have something positive to say. :)

  12. Carol Bjerke says:

    Loved this article, Misty. What hit home for me was to remember that people are busy, email is instant/use accordingly and begin each day with presence and pro-activeness. I meditate and pray each morning and night – or at least do my best! The day is sooo much better if I make that spiritual connection because I know I’m not alone, no matter what I’ll be doing that day.

    • Right on, Carol. Good for you that you always try to start you day with the right frame of mind. That can go so far in setting the tone for the whole day! :) Thanks for taking the time to visit the blog! :)

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