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You may be taking things personally if...

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Last week I posted the article "You Can't Piss Me Off Anymore Because I Learned How to Not Take It Personally." A lot of people thanked me, and more than a few asked how to identify when they're taking something personally. I don't like to let my readers down, so read on!

First let's set the foundation of what we're discussing here: Taking it Personally is either accepting someone's accusation as our truth or creating a story where it's possible none exists. It's not beneficial to take something personally. We can choose to not take it personally and, when we do, it benefits us emotionally, physically and psychology. Now that we've clarified that, let's dive in.

Below is a 2-step approach to recognizing that we may be taking things personally. The recognition comes easily when we know what triggers us. The more we understand our triggers, the more prepared we are to be calm in the face of one. Picture a fisherman dangling a hook with juicy bait on it. (You're the fish in this scenario.) You're so clear about who you are and what is juicy bait to you, that you calmly swim towards the hook, hand that worm to the fisherman and keep swimming. (I love this visual.)

Ok fish, here's the 2-step samba that will set you up for total awareness of who you are and what is juicy bait to you.

1. Mind Body Connection
Is your stomach tight just reading about taking things personally? If so, this topic is a trigger for you. (It is for most human beings so you're in good company.) Now stay with that feeling in your tummy and start to identify when else you have that physical sensation. Consider 5 people in your life, starting with your boss, and pay attention to what happens to your body as you name them in your head. Now write down the name of your boss and next to that write what happens in your body. It's an enlightening list to make. You've just completed an exercise that tangibly connected your mind to your body. Now you're ready to recognize your body reactions in real time. Being aware of the body reactions is the fastest and most reliable way to recognize when you're taking something personally.

2. Interpretation Our body will tell us something is going on; our mind has to learn to listen and interpret. So let's look at that list again. You already have the name and the body sensation. Now write why it is that you have that sensation. The Why is the key to catching ourselves before we take it personally. The why may be anything that resonates for you. Some actual examples from clients are:

  • A certain personality type reminds you of your 5th grade bully.
  • His tone of voice is condescending.
  • You feel insecure when someone asks you a math question.
  • You know you're not as experienced as she is.
  • She got promoted to VP and you haven't yet.
  • He never looks me in the eye.
  • She always questions why I'm in a meeting.
This list can go on for days. Add your own and get close to why you either accept someone's accusation as your truth or create a story where it's possible none exists. Once we begin this evolution towards not taking it personally, we start recognizing those around us who have mastered it already. Chances are they're the people you enjoy being with the most. These people give us freedom to just be. They don't burden us with the power to affect their moods or productivity or creativity. They're clear in who they are and don't allow others to have power over them. I want to be like them. Don't you?

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