There’s this peculiar phenomenon that we humans are guilty of. It’s like standing in a vast, echo-filled canyon and every word or action aimed at us bounces back a hundredfold, drowning us in a deluge of personal interpretation. “Is that comment about me?” “Did she look at me funny because of what I said yesterday?” Oh, the relentless echo of ego!
For instance, you’d laugh if I told you that there were times I even took it personally when my 2-year-old daughter used her body—and my clothes—as a canvas for her sharpie pen artistry. Here I was, thinking she was making a profound statement about our relationship when in reality, she was just being a toddler, expressing herself in the most direct way she knows.
When these waves hit, it feels like I’m inside one of those glass globes, snow swirling everywhere, obscuring the beautiful scene within. Instead of snowflakes, it’s judgments, assumptions, and misinterpretations obscuring my vision.
It seems there’s a committee in my head, not unlike a board of directors. Chairing this committee is Ms. Ego Ella, with members like Mr. Percy Personal, and Mrs. Rita Reacts-a-lot. Their favorite game? Taking everything personally.
Years back, I found myself wearing the heavy cloak of personalization when it came to my parents’ choices. Choices that, without a doubt, shaped parts of my life, but were made from their own perspectives, fears, and dreams. Looking back, I realize those choices were rarely about me, even though they impacted me.
Ms. Ego Ella loves to center herself. “Oh, that offhand comment from a coworker? Definitely about me.” Mr. Percy Personal will magnify any interaction, insisting there’s a hidden meaning aimed directly at him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Rita Reacts-a-lot… well, she’s the one ready to ignite at the slightest perceived offense.
But here’s the revelation: this committee is not the true me. They’re like an old radio show playing in the background. Recognizing their chatter is the first step towards muting them.
When someone lashes out, is short-tempered, or judgmental, it’s like they’re painting a picture, but not of you—of themselves. It’s a display of their current emotional state, past wounds, insecurities, and yes, their own personal committee. Imagine thinking you’re the main character in everyone’s story. Exhausting, isn’t it?
So why the instant urge to wrap ourselves in another’s projection, wearing it like an ill-fitting garment? It’s that darn committee, making everything about us.
Taking things personally is more than just an individual quirk; it’s a collective habit. It forms barriers, creates conflicts, and hinders understanding. Every time we presume an action or word is about us, we lose an opportunity to connect, to empathize, to grow.
But, my dear reader, awareness is the sunbeam that pierces the snow globe’s storm. Understanding why we do this and realizing that it’s a mere habit—one that can be changed—is empowering.
When that committee starts its chatter, or when I feel the weight of another’s projection, I now choose to pause. I listen. I breathe. I seek the truth, not just my committee’s version of it. And the truth is often simple: it’s not about me.
Embracing this perspective doesn’t just lighten my emotional load; it builds bridges. It encourages dialogue. It fosters understanding. If we all commit to this shift, just imagine the world we’d create. A world where we listen more than we presume, where we seek to understand before being understood.
Perhaps you’ve recognized your own “Take Things Personally” Committee. Next time they convene, I invite you to pause and redirect your attention towards compassion and understanding. It’s a journey, but one worth embarking on. And trust me, the view is much clearer outside the echo chamber.
Until we meet again, remember: you have the power to change the channel of your thoughts at any time.