7 Things To Stop Taking Personally, Because They Say Nothing About You

BDG Media, Inc.

I grew up constantly hearing not to take things personally. But this always seemed kind of disingenuous to me. Sometimes, people's reactions to you really are about you, and you should take responsibility for the way you're impacting others. On the other hand, some things people say about you have nothing to do with you. So, how do you tell the difference?

"How we view other people, and likewise, how they view us, is not entirely within our control," practicing psychologist and Harvard lecturer Holly Parker, PhD, author of If We're Together, Why Do I Feel So Alone?, tells Bustle. "Sure, we can influence how someone sees us through our words and the nonverbal messages we send (e.g., our tone of voice, our facial expressions, and our body posture), but that’s not all that goes into how we humans see each other. People also have their own filters that they see other folks through. These filters affect how we understand and interpret each other’s behavior."

If you keep getting the same feedback over and over again from multiple people, that might be a reason to take something personally, says Parker. Or, if you've done something to hurt another person, you should take responsibility for that (and, ultimately, it doesn't matter if it's more about you or them). However, you shouldn't generally take the following things personally, because they're usually more about the other person than they are about you.


Romantic Rejection

Ashley Batz for Bustle

Everyone has gotten rejected at some point. And that doesn't make them any less beautiful, smart, fun, or desirable. Attraction really is subjective, and it's totally possible for someone to both be an awesome person and not be the right match for someone else.


Losing A Job

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Unless you've really slacked off or messed up (and even then, there was probably a reason why), losing a job most often has to do with challenges the company is facing, budgetary concerns, a lack of fit, or something else outside your control. Some of the most successful people have been fired or laid off at some point. In fact, getting fired from one job can give you the chance to reinvent yourself and find an even better one.


Online Trolls' Comments

Ashley Batz for Bustle

When I get trolled by someone on Twitter, I like to look at their page to see what they're saying to other users. Usually, I find that they're giving the same insults they're giving me to a whole slew of people. That's because trolls are really talking about themselves. When they call people ugly, they're expressing the ugliness inside them. They may go after particular kinds of people (like, it seems, women and people of color), but that's because of their own issues.


Strangers' Bad Moods

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

This is easier said than done; a rude comment can really ruin your morning. But if somebody you don't even know is rude to you, there's no way it can be about you. They don't even know you. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you didn't do anything wrong.


Friends Making Plans Without You

Ashley Batz for Bustle

It can feel like a direct insult when your friends hang out without you. But it's more likely to be an oversight than a deliberate plan to avoid you. Sometimes, two people want to catch up one on one. Other times, their schedules happen to converge. If you suspect your friends are intentionally not inviting you places, you can always ask. But most likely, it just didn't cross their minds.


Bad Grades

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Plenty of brilliant people got bad grades. Your performance on a particular test or in a particular subject is not a reflection of your intelligence, and it doesn't determine how successful you'll be.



Ashley Batz for Bustle

If someone broke up with you because you mistreated them, that's a reason to look at yourself. But if they just didn't feel you were right for them, that doesn't mean you won't be right for someone else. In fact, maybe it means that they're not capable of appreciating everything you have to offer.

If you take an honest look at yourself, you can usually figure out if something's personal or not. The key is to develop enough self-esteem to know when something's not personal and to feel OK with yourself even if it is.