Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Did They Hurt Your Feelings?

When I started working out with my trainer last year, he had me doing sprints on the treadmill. After about 3 minutes, I got a cramp in my side. Seeing me hold it, he said "Your side hurts because you're completely out of shape. Suck it up so you can get in shape and the cramps will go away."

I was sitting in a strategic planning meeting and shared my thoughts of how to proceed with a project. Several people expressed their complete disagreement, stating my ideas were ridiculous and urged the others to go in a different direction.

Has someone ever said something that offended you or got under your skin? Has someone made a comment about your looks, your work or something you did or said? Has someone told you that you wouldn't succeed or that you were wasting your time trying to improve your career, your relationship or yourself. If so, I'm pleased to share the next agreement to make with yourself:

Agreement #2: Don't Take Anything Personally
I've met people that have let one comment (or a slew of comments) from someone ruin their day, their week, and for some people - their life.

"You're not smart enough."
"You're not good enough."
"You're ugly."
"You're stupid."
"No one will love you."

When people come to coaching, one of the areas we focus on is how much power have you given to others because you (1) took something personal (2) internalized it (3) and acted on it in a way that wasn't honoring who you are because you were trying to prove them wrong instead of just being you.

I learned a long time ago that someone else's opinion, attitude, words, or actions have to pass my validity test before I give credence to it. If it's constructive and provides practical feedback, I use that advice to my benefit. However, if it fails the validity test, I completely disregard it. And you know what I've found? When I stopped taking things personally, I experienced a level of freedom that allowed me to focus on the things that were important to me and not on the things that so -and -so said about me!

Taking things personally is emotionally draining. You spend an enormous amount of energy feeling bad, getting mad, or trying to appease others. You are so focused on pleasing the other person - or proving the other person wrong - that you aren't focused on the things that are most important to you.

Check out some things that Ruiz says about the 2nd agreement:

"Taking things personally makes you easy prey for those predators who try to send you emotional poison."

"When you take things personally, you feel offended, and your reaction is to defend your beliefs and create conflicts. You make something big out of something little."

"Nothing people think about me is really about me - it's about them and their issues."

"You have to trust yourself and choose to believe or not believe what someone says about you."

What my trainer said? True. I was out of shape and needed to get more physically fit. No emotions - just a fact.

What the others in that strategic meeting said? Didn't bother me one bit. We didn't agree and it was okay. We made some compromises and moved on. No emotions - just a fact.

It's not easy, but it's necessary: Don't Take Anything Personally!


  1. I really love this weeks and last weeks blog!!!
    Thanks for putting this out there.
    I lot of us need this and you are always right on time with a powerful message.

  2. Words are so powerful! I TOTALLY agree that we should not take things so personally and give others the power to affect us negatively. I also think that people should start to THINK before they speak. Too many people are ready to offer an opinion (99% of the time it is unsolicited)or ready to give their two cents on subjects that really are none of their business.

  3. Words are indeed powerful, but the mind is even stronger. You have to wonder how a word can carry so much weight that it can make or break you. I accept the validation test that Doreen has put forth. If the words or the person expressing the words fails my standards -- the walls go up.


  4. I really enjoyed reading all the blogs from last week, very enlightening. Your words always hit the nail on the head. I can always relate to the scenarios you post. I’m definitely one to where my feelings on my sleeve and would love more insight on how to over come this issue. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. You know where to find me. 