As animals wired for survival, we're predisposed to perceiving threats, measuring ourselves against others, and ultimately, wanting to fit in. On the contrary, the "nurtured" aspect of our evolution predisposes us to want to stand out, be the best, the most loved, the most talented, the "special," the elite. Quite a conundrum, no? And it's one from which a ton of our collective anxiety stems — namely, in this case, why we take everything so personally.
The only way we perceive our lives is subjectively. We know what we know from what we have, personally, experienced. Viewing things objectively is a learned and chosen ability — that is to say, it typically doesn't happen on its own. We live in accordance with our subconscious biases and the very tiny span of what we perceive reality to be. Because this is so, we are the centers of our own universes. This is not to say that we are all selfish, but that no matter what we see going on outside of us, we interpret it and compare it to how we perceive ourselves. Our self-perception, then, creates how we see the world.
In less fancy terms, it's basically why we compare ourselves to our friends, get jealous or competitive, or feel as though every subtweet is about us. Yet, despite this being our nature, it's really important to begin to realize that a lot of what you experience and perceive is not the world telling you something about yourself — it's you telling yourself something about yourself. Here are the many ways your life changes when you realize that you don't have to take everything so personally after all:
You Realize That Most People Are Only Thinking About Themselves
You know, the same way you're only thinking about yourself.
You Realize That You Are Only As Affected By The Outside World As You Decide To Be
Or, rather, as much as you need to be to realize the nature of your relationship to yourself. (Once you love and accept yourself and are no longer projecting your issues onto objective experiences and situations, you can actually see things for what they are).
You Realize How Few People Are Even Aware That There's A World Outside Their Minds
They're so absolutely lost in being angry or aggressive or controlling or competitive, it would not occur to them that their perception is entirely their own construct.
You Realize That Choosing To Be Personally Affected By Something Is A Choice You Do Not Have To Make
And it's as simple as deciding, "Hey, I'm not going to worry about that today."
You Realize That You Can Make Anything About You If You Look Hard Enough
You can get offended or feel anxious about every last comment, tweet or remark someone makes — if you're in the mindset that the world is out to get you.
You Realize How Infrequently People Are Actually Trying To Diss You
... Or whatever it is you're paranoid about. As soon as you stop actively seeking it out, you realize that it wasn't really happening in the first place, or at least, it was only happening as much as you were entertaining it.
You Realize That The Things You Once Felt Personally "Offended" Over Had More To Do With You Than Anybody Else
And getting to the point where you're okay with yourself is the same as getting to the point where you're OK with other people, too.
Images: Giphy (3); Unsplash