“The ancient oracle said I was the wisest among the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing.” ~ Socrates
If you were to take a look around you, chances are, it probably wouldn’t take long to find something to get upset about. Social media has expanded our ability to hear about even the smallest hints of impropriety, but the truth is, most people who are on social media are only there for their own egotistical purposes – so what is the point of being offended by someone’s opinion?
Although there may be no benefit to becoming upset by every outside event in the world, there are definitely rewards for not behaving that way. Here’s what happens once you accept that outside incidents are not personal affronts:
1) You Will Feel Less Anger and Irritation
Anyone who has been tailgated incessantly or cut off by a rude driver knows how completely aggravating it is to deal with. For many people, the natural response is to get angry; possibly making an obscene gesture if it has been going on for a while. Though understandable, this is likely to increase your anger rather than to reduce it. By fanning the flames of frustration, the tension increases and you become even more angry. In the worst of scenarios, this situation can even end in death.
If, instead of getting angry at the inconsiderate driver, or at least allowing your anger to come but not reacting, you simply let him or her pass or just let it be, you will find yourself with a lightened load. Let them crash their car somewhere else that does not involve you. Obviously, the person is prepared to cause problems, so don’t let those problems become your own.
2) Your Patience Level Will Grow
Training yourself to not take things personally requires that you stop and become aware of your responses to other people’s behavior. If you fail to recognize you are responding negatively to another person’s actions before getting agitated, it is already too late. The ideal situation would be that you don’t have to be bothered by others at all, but that’s simply not the reality.
Since waiting for everyone to satisfy your needs is never going to happen, the alternative is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. If you notice irritability, it is probably time to take a moment for some mindfulness practices. Doing so will help you to relax your state of mind, but it also teaches patience as an added benefit.
3) You Will Experience Less Anxiety and Depression
These two psychological issues are indelibly tied to one another, playing off of one feeling to the next. Anxiety and depression have been linked to the increased need for external sources to promote happiness; meaning, people look to things outside of themselves to create happiness. Those who make a conscious effort to not take things personally come to realize that self-worth and future endeavors are not based on outside circumstances. On the other hand, if you are constantly worrying about why someone did not call you back or what someone else was thinking by not inviting you somewhere, you are setting yourself up for unnecessary anxiety and depression.
4) You Will Become More Productive
Releasing yourself from the exasperation of being insulted by outside circumstances will not only help you gain patience and reduce anger, anxiety, and depression, it actually helps you to become more productive in life. By detaching yourself from these self-inflicted aggravations, you are allowing yourself more time to pay attention to what really matters. When you don’t spend time worrying about other people’s intentions or behavior — unless they are directly, negatively impacting your quality of life — you have more time to work.
Every moment you spend seething over a perceived slight is a moment you could be using to create something of value. Instead of ranting about your anger, try writing it down, processing it, and turning it into something useful that teaches yourself and others. This helps you to grow as a person and it may it even land you some work.
5) Your Self-Esteem Will Increase
This one is really important because many people look to others to determine their value as human beings. First of all, that is never a good idea, because people, by nature, are generally self-centered. It takes a wise and mature person to see that their actions affect others around them, and to be able to apply that to their relationships. Even the most self-aware person must occasionally make a conscious effort to be aware of her influence on others.
Once you stop worrying about other people’s actions (and opinions), your self-esteem will increase dramatically. The person who knows his own self-worth is tied only to his belief system, rather than other people’s, and is a much happier person for it. Taking everything personally, or as an attack, increases feelings of being ineffectual, which lowers self-esteem.
6) It Will Make You a Better Partner and Friend
People who value themselves as individuals are not reliant on others to make themselves feel good. They are aware that they can be happy with or without others around them. People see that strength and they will be drawn to you. This will help you cultivate new friendships and build upon relationships that already exist.
Take a moment to reflect on the last time you got mad at a friend over something small. Was their action based on a choice that concerned something she was doing for herself, or was she intentionally trying to hurt you? Humans are fallible; we make mistakes. If your friend didn’t call to invite you somewhere, try to take it with a grain of salt. Maybe she was too busy and simply forgot.
However, if your friend forgets to call you repeatedly, perhaps it is time to make a new friend. But before you take that step, try communicating with your friend to see why he or she is not including you. They may not even realize that you’re feeling hurt. If they blow you off, it’s up to you to determine whether the friendship is worth continually investing your energy in. Either way, it’s probably not you – it’s them – and you have to decide for yourself if this person’s actions increase your positivity or simply add to your negative feelings.
7) Employers Will Value You More
Bosses don’t like drama. If you are the type of employee who cannot take constructive criticism, you will likely experience difficulties in the workplace. All managers need to be able to tell their employees what has to be done differently to perform their jobs effectively. If you break down crying when your boss tells you that you did not complete a task correctly, or begin yelling because he wants you to focus on a different one, you probably won’t last very long with the company.
Learning to recognize that constructive criticism is part of working on a team is beneficial to you because you will be more open to learning how to be a better employee. An abusive boss, on the other hand, will make you feel bad intentionally and set you up for failure. In situations such as this, it is time to stick up for yourself, but recognize that once again, it is probably not personal; your boss is just a jerk.
If you find yourself in this position, take some time to evaluate whether it is worth tolerating the abusive behavior. If not, start looking for a company that will value your work. Remember, the bad manager’s behavior is not your fault, but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it.
We only have so much time on this planet, so why waste it being angry over things that have nothing to do with us? Let people be who they are, be who you are, and don’t let it get you down. It’s not you – it’s them.