I read a quote somewhere the other day that stopped me in my tracks and has been going around in my head ever since. The quote was:
‘What if you never took anything personally ever again?’
At first I started to get defensive and my ego kicked into gear with thoughts like, ‘but sometimes it IS all about me’, ‘we have to take on board personal feedback’, and ‘but I’m being arrogant if I don’t listen to others’.
The truth is that the arrogance comes from believing that it’s all about me. It’s not. Everyone around us is in the same boat, they are more caught up in their own world…more than they will ever be worried about yours.
When we take things personally, whether it’s feedback (the report you provided didn’t have enough detail in it), or actions (I need you to finish off that program review that you haven’t completed yet) or even the absence of actions (like Sue not saying good morning when she walked into the office) we automatically get defensive. In fact taking things personally and getting defensive go hand in hand.
Moving to a place where you never take anything personally again, is not about ignoring feedback, but it is about putting your defensive guard down and finding out what is really going on. This is not to say that we have to put up with personal attacks, because this is never okay. But often when someone personally attacks you it is more about their own insecurities and uncertainties that it is about you as a person.
Here’s the truth: You are awesome. Period.
Believe this and then move forward by getting curious about what else might be going on, and what you could learn.
What can you learn about others?
What can you learn about yourself?
What can you learn about the situation?
For me, moving to the place of not taking things personally is all about being curious not just about our outer world, but also about our inner world.
So the next time you find yourself taking something personally, take a deep breath, realise that it’s not all about you (remember you are awesome), and be curious about the situation.
You might just find it’s not even about you...