Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Taking Things Personally

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You know how when you get cut off in traffic you feel like it’s a personal affront? “How dare this cretin encroach upon my rights?” The truth of course is that the driver who has cut you off doesn’t know you from Adam. His driving behavior has absolutely nothing to do with you as an individual. He would have done the same thing whether it was you or someone else behind the wheel.

Taking things personally when they really have almost nothing to do with us is an insidious cause of mental and emotional disturbance. It’s worth raising your conscious awareness during those times where negative feelings arise due to an action you perceive as purposefully hostile towards you to ask yourself this question. “Would this person probably have done the same thing regardless of who was standing in my shoes?”

You can save yourself a lot of needless distress by looking at situations more objectively, realizing that most people don’t have it out for you. They might be selfish, narcissistic egomaniacs but that has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you. Feeling like people are constantly disqualifying or belittling youin particular can wreak havoc on your self-esteem.

Regardless of whether a hostile action is personally directed towards you or not the consequences are obviously annoying. But you can save yourself the added emotional distress by realizing that most of the time it’s not some defect in your character that has caused the behavior in question, but rather thoughtlessness on the part of the other.