Letting Go of “Taking It Personally”

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We all want more personal time with family and friends, but ahhh…the joy and pain of being with the ones we love! Then there’s those we struggle with who seem to show up for a different purpose. Do you often get disappointed, frustrated or angry with how people behave or the things they say?

Do you find yourself hiding what you really think, feeling apprehensive about getting into conflict or hurting someone’s feelings? How can you speak your truth without taking other’s criticism and judgment to heart?

When we react negatively to others there’s a value we hold being stepped on, but when we take it personally our own well-being suffers. There’s negative energy we experience coming from our ego. It keeps us stuck in destructive anger, resentment, blame, and un-forgiveness.

Experiencing the negative emotions when our ideal of what’s right and wrong has been compromised comes from being human, and can be used to fuel our inner strength to stand stronger for what we believe in. This pain can create our greatest gifts.

But when the ‘right way’ to be polite, show respect, express love, dress, eat – you name it – is not how you think it should be, it becomes what others should and shouldn’t do, should and shouldn’t say, should and shouldn’t be. Our ego projects this negative energy onto others in the form of criticism, and judgment. We make someone wrong. When we feel criticized, and judged, we experience someone’s projection of their ‘right way’, and you know how that feels!

We become attached to our way needing to ‘be right’ for everyone, especially those close to us who are now hurting us with their ‘disrespect, disobedience, or disregard’ for not meeting OUR right way! We make other people’s choices our responsibility, and forget that it is their responsibility. We have no control over how someone else thinks, responds or behaves. We make it ‘personal’, and take it ‘personally’.

We make others wrong with our need to “correct, convince, control or change them” (my 4 C’s of criticism and judgment). We justify our behaviour because after all, we’re right! Others treat us to their criticism and judgment. We become afraid of speaking our truth out of fear of how others will react, afraid we will hurt them, or simply to avoid conflict. There is one tiny problem.

We don’t see the world as it is, but as we are.

It’s an illusion that ‘I am right’ – instead the way I choose to behave, think, and speak may be working well for me, so these ways (thoughts and behaviour) could very well be ‘right’ meaning loving, constructive, harmonious, and working marvelously for you, but the moment you begin to force your ‘right way’ upon others you’ve shifted into your ego. Your intention may be to ‘help’ someone (because you love them!), and your compassionate side naturally wants to reach out when anyone suffers, but love doesn’t make anyone wrong.

We forget that we all have, and want the freedom to choose our values, and can only operate from our own state of consciousness. Someone’s state may be screaming “I am not ready, able, willing, or agree with your way of seeing” even if theirs isn’t working for them. Notice how it feels when others force their ‘right’ way upon you.

Even for our children – age, level of independence, and maturity determines what they can handle, their ability to learn, and grow. Differences arise between us we may not like, expect, need or want. We choose to respond in anger, disappointment, and frustration with thoughts of ‘how could you…?’ or ‘what’s the matter with you?’ We can falsely believe someone is doing something against us, and we’ll blame or find fault. We think ‘they should know better’, and may see them as “unethical, selfish, or unkind”. We create expectations, and when they’re not met, we think others have disappointed us, feel angry towards them, or think they should be punished. We condemn them, and in doing so, condemn ourselves.

Anger, disappointment, and frustration isn’t ‘bad’ – it’s an indication your values are not being honoured. It’s when you take these ‘negative emotions’, and condemn someone for their ‘wrong way’ that your ego has taken hold. It creates resentment, jealousy, and destructive anger. Any pain can be turned into something positive when you take responsibility for your own energy, manage it constructively, and not send it out in the form of “I’m right, and you’re wrong”.

Have you ever wondered why so many struggle with “I’m not ______enough”, searching to fulfill outside what can only be healed inside?

How can you share, teach, enlighten, positively influence your values, knowledge, and expertise while allowing someone the freedom to choose, learn, and grow? By shifting to curiosity, compassion, and understanding – be in our higher self (beyond our ego) where the divine love within us allows everyone to progress. It’s the purest form of unconditional love, and your experience of it will feel good, flowing, easy. You become the change.

It does not mean compromising your values. The challenge is developing your ability to discern whether the ‘student’ is ready. It doesn’t mean they necessarily want the lesson, but that their ego won’t hold, and project negativity that becomes self-destructive to them, and you. There are times when the wisest choice in our struggles with others is not telling the whole truth, in some cases ‘white lies’, or even ending a relationship. Its ‘the wisdom to know the difference’.

When we correct (treat someone as broken needing fixing), convince (want others to hold our beliefs), control (have others do it our way) or condemn (using destructive tactics eg. guilt, psychological abuse, withholding love or money) – your ego is at work. By shifting yourself away from these fear driven energies towards the energy of love, your relationships will transform. Fear feels constrictive, and separates us – love feels expansive, and connects us.

Here are 5 ways to surrender your ego’s need to ‘be right’ to release its destructive energy, and shift to your higher self where love resides:

1) Develop compassion. “I know we don’t see the world the same way, and must learn our lessons through our own perspective, and experience. I will try to understand from your eyes.”

2) Be curious. Find your child-like wonder. Ask questions instead of believing someone is a “____” and should be”_______”. Just notice what you see, knowing that ‘actions speak louder than words’. Remember no one chooses to be wrong.

3) Share your thoughts and feelings openly and honestly with “When you say and/or do ________, it makes me feel_________” because I have a value of _________.

4) Teach to those ready, able, and willing. Let go of trying to convince others. Remember what it’s like when loved ones impose their well-meaning advice.

5) Let go of any responsibility to make anyone see what you see. We don’t have a right to enlighten those who don’t want your guidance or help even if you know it will make a positive difference in their lives. You cannot help the ‘student who is not ready’ because they cannot ‘hear’ you from their shoes.

Love allows us to see one another as human beings all doing the best we can.

Practice noticing your inner critic, and self-judging voice that says “you idiot, what’s wrong with you?” It doesn’t forgive, and pushes you to be perfect. It expects the same of others. Blaming, complaining, and finding fault becomes acceptable. You cannot show weakness, embarrassment or that you’re vulnerable because your ego will make you wrong. You must win, be strong, compete to be better than someone. This will make you ‘worthy’ deserving of love – until you realize you already are.

When you learn to let go of that voice – YOU get to show up. Be You authentically. Live your own truth. You learn how to create a judgment-free space for your self, and others where no one gets to be wrong. We take responsibility for the choices of our words and actions if they are destructive, unloving, unkind or inharmonious, but we stop making people wrong.

Big distinction – who I am versus what I choose.

We stop thinking we are hurting others because we don’t have that power. Instead we simply follow the golden rule – don’t treat others in a way we don’t want to be treated. Who wants to be treated to criticism, and judgment? Constructive feedback, and accurate discernment is something entirely different. Having an opinion, making assumptions, and conclusions we must do to make wise decisions, but criticizing others? Judging people? When you practice this distinction, your relationships will transform, and you will no longer take what others say and do personally. You will be free, and love will flow to you at a depth you have never known.

Carolyn Hidalgo is a certified life coach, and author with a vision to create a judgment-free world. She teaches clients how to experience the power of unconditional love by surrendering their inner critic, and self-judging voice. Her deepest desire is to help others release unnecessary suffering in their relationships – guilt, resentment, conflict and un-forgiveness. Her upcoming book is called “Live the Love You Deserve” Pick up Carolyn’s free relationship report at www.carolynhidalgo.com.

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  1. I never force my way upon others, never want to prove me right or to correct anybody, because I’m constantly working on transcending ego; but when someone forces her way upon me, or to correct me, or disrespect my way, my ego kicks in violently and it makes me so angry. Why is that?

    • Because you don’t force your way upon others, you respect that others have their own opinions, and want others to respect yours even if you differ. One of your values is not criticizing and judging others so when someone treats you this way, it doesn’t resonate. You feel angry because this value is being stepped on. Our ego can kick in if we haven’t self-mastered it because our ego needs to be right, and reacts defensively, angrily, even at times violently. When you learn to ‘not judge others for judging you’ – you will no longer react this way. It’s one of the most difficult lessons to overcome, but the inner peace you will reach is really a freedom within.

      It requires you to recognize others believe it’s ok to correct you, and they may justify not respecting you or simply have a different definition of what ‘respect’ looks like because of their way of seeing the world. Once you understand how others are treating you has nothing to do with you, but has everything to do with who they are, you begin to release your own ego. You can see your own ego, and it doesn’t feel good to be angry, and now project your own judgment. You will see that you have become the same way this person is now treating you. It’s not easy to see this, but when you do, and practice ‘letting go of being right, and making someone wrong’, no matter what they say and do – everything shifts in you, and you will find that inner peace, and feel less angry.

      It’s a difficult practice, and I acknowledge your commitment to do this inner work! Be patient, and loving to yourself – allow whatever feelings to show up without judgment, and just be curious with yourself – ‘why am I feeling this way? Is my anger coming from my value being stepped on? If so, use this to stand even stronger here by not critizing and judging this person, but if the anger is stemming from what someone has said or done TO YOU -it’s your ego judging – this is how we condemn ourselves to resentment, feelings of betrayal, and even hatred towards someone. You give away your own power when you believe something that isn’t true for you. Simply notice ‘I see your way of seeing is clearly not the same as mine’ by the way I am feeling without projecting it onto them in the form of criticism and judgment.

  2. Hi Tania,

    I agree that it’s wise to distance yourself from those who send out toxic energy (“blamers, complainers, the victim mindset”) while understanding they are not aware of their own energy for themselves or others. This can be a real challenge in our lives, but it does seem to happen naturally as you hold and send out your own positive, higher vibration, and stand up strongly for your own truth : )

    Maintaining healthy boundaries is learning to manage our own ‘self-care’ for what brings out our best because those who surround us make a bigger difference than we realize. “You are the sum of the 10 people you most hang around.” Sometimes it means saying no to situations that may appear to be ‘mandatory’, while allowing others who choose to ‘go without you’. Taking a difficult stand may result in some drama around you, but it becomes easier as it will develop your own inner trust, peace and strength. Glad you found my article helpful, and all the best on your journey!!

  3. I have read The Four Agreements more than once and have always enjoyed and learned a great deal from the philosophy it presents. While I agree that we liberate ourselves when we do not take things personally, I believe it is important as well to be able to recognize toxic people and detach from them in an appropriate manner knowing their thoughts, words and actions are a product of where they are.

    I am still working on how I process others in relationships regarding my expectations, interactions and ultimate determination of the health of the relationship as it pertains to my location and theirs. This is an area where I still struggle and want to arrive at a more peaceful place in how I grow beyond my ego and maintain discernment and healthy boundaries.

    The article is insightful and helpful; I appreciate how it will contribute to my journey and growth.


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