5 Hacks HOW to NOT Take Things Personally

I see my Dad about 4 to 5 times a year. Dad is 88 and lately I feel time is running out. My “negative mind” calculates the number of times I may see my dad before he dies, which makes these visits extra important.

We stopped to see Dad the day after Brett’s wedding. Eight of us surprised him and piled into his small family room where he was watching the Packer game.  My heart was bursting to tell Dad all about the wedding he missed.  I asked Dad if he wanted to hear about Brett’s wedding, “No” he replied as he continued to watch the Packer game, not taking his eyes off the TV.  I felt unimportant and defeated.

Three weeks later I was home for mom’s 88th birthday and Laurie and I decided to see Dad BEFORE the Packer game. We arrived at 11:15 am with plenty of time before the noon Packer game. To our surprise, Dad was watching TV mass and could not be disturbed.  The Packer game started immediately after mass. I asked Dad when we could talk and he growled, “Half time.” Boy was I feeling unimportant. I live 5 hours away and hardy ever see my dad and it appeared the Packers were more important than me.

It took me several weeks to not be “mad” at Dad, when I realized I was taking all of this personally, and it was making me more upset and angry.

Here are five simple hacks HOW to NOT take things personally that have worked for me.

Respond versus react

My initial reaction was “The Packers are more important than me.”  We need to take the time to rein in our thoughts before we respond.  I had wanted to immediately talk to Dad, but what would that solve?  If I was alone sitting in a house day after day I would probably be waiting to watch the Packer game too, just to break up my lonely monotony.  I am glad I didn’t talk to him right away. What would it really have accomplished?  He is 88 years old and is probably not going to change.

Don’t assume and think the worst

Maybe it’s not about you, but rather about them and their perceptions projected onto you.

Sometimes it’s the other person’s issues, their personal needs and their desire to control you and or a situation. Or maybe they are just unaware and have no clue what they are saying to you.  I honestly think my dad does not know that he sometimes comes across rough or gruff and not caring and kind.

Change the focus of the interaction to compassion

You can try to understand what the other person is feeling or thinking or trying to convey to you.  Do they interact with other people like this or just you? Maybe they lack social skills and are more negative then you are. Maybe they don’t value relationships like you do.   After stewing for a few weeks I gave Dad compassion.  But only after I thought about what it would be like to watch the world go by confined to the only chair I could sit in and have only two activities I could do day after day – look out the window or watch TV.

Realize that not everything is about you

It is so easy to be a victim and fall into the trap of thinking that the non-verbal negative vibes or criticism is about something you did. It can simply be that the other person is having a bad day.  But if you notice that your relationship with a particular person is repeating the same negative patterns over and over again it may be time to rethink how much time you spend with them.  I have learned not to call Dad during dinner time because as long as I can remember Dad has been on a schedule and he sticks to it no matter what.

Invest your time and energy in you

We all care about what others think. We spend buckets of time trying to understand what we did wrong or why people don’t like us.  Focus on the people who do cherish and love you instead of dwelling on the negativity of those who don’t seem to like you.  Be done poisoning your spirit with someone else’s negativity and focus on the joys in your own life.

Remember what Don Miquel Ruiz says, “Don’t take anything personally. Nothings others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

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Not taking things personal is your practical guide to freedom and more joy filled days!

We would love to hear what you do to not take things personally.