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7 Tips to Stop Taking Things Personally (With Examples)

by Ashley

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Key points

  • Question feedback's truth before internalizing it.
  • Boost your self-confidence to reduce sensitivity to others' opinions.
  • Prioritize self-perception over external judgments for personal empowerment.

Do you feel like any feedback is a personal insult? Or does one comment from your partner send you into a spiral of self-loathing? If you answered yes, you may need to stop taking things so personally.

When you stop taking things so personally, you gain confidence and realize that you get to decide how you react. And by refining your reactions, you are able to foster healthy relationships with open communication.

This article will give you guidance on how to objectively assess feedback and control your reactions so you can thrive in all aspects of life.

Why do we take things personally?

None of us want to be overly emotionally reactive and easily offended. We’d rather be happy. Yet, many of us still behave this way.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you’re taking something personally? The research has a few ideas.

One study found that individuals who were more anxious and had lower self-esteem were more likely to exhibit heightened emotional reactivity.

I personally find this to be true for me. Whenever I’m anxious or doubting myself, I tend to be more reactive to feedback or situations.

Just the other day I was feeling anxious about a treatment session with a patient who has been difficult. This patient gave me what would have been considered benign feedback to most people.

But instead of just hearing what they were saying, my emotions quickly got involved. While I didn’t let the patient see my reaction, I felt deflated for the rest of the day. 

And this was all based on one statement they said. It sounds almost silly in hindsight. 

But I realize that what is at the root of that reaction is my own insecurity and anxiety. And working on my own confidence and self-love may be part of the antidote to taking things personally.

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What happens when we take everything personally

Is taking things personally a bad thing? From a personal standpoint, it usually triggers an excessive emotional response in me.

And more times than not, the emotions that I feel after taking something personally are negative.

The research seems to confirm my personal observations. Researchers theorize that when we become less emotionally reactive we experience greater happiness.

Keep in mind, they aren’t saying you should be emotionally numb. They’re saying there is a difference between healthy reactions and overly reactive responses. 

This was further confirmed by a study in 2018. This study determined individuals who were more emotionally reactive were at a greater risk for experiencing anxiety, depression, and stress.

All this research indicates there isn’t much to be gained by taking things personally. And I think on some level we all intuitively know this too.

But it’s a hard habit to break. I’ll be the first to admit that I still take too many things personally on a daily basis.

However, with increased awareness of the issue, I am becoming better at self-regulating my response. And like all things in life, it takes practice and repetition before it becomes a habit.

7 ways to stop taking things personally

These 7 tips are going to help you better control your emotional reactivity to stop taking things so personally. It won’t happen overnight, but with consistent practice, you will get there.

1. Journal your emotions to process them

If you can’t seem to let go of something, it’s time to take up your pen and paper. Journaling your emotions and thoughts can help you process them.

When you see all of your thoughts and feelings out on paper, you give your feelings room to breathe. And once you let it all out, it’s often easier to let it all go.

When I find myself ruminating over a situation at work or with a loved one, I write out my thoughts. This helps me pinpoint flaws in my own logic and reactivity.

And by writing it down, I feel like I’m helping myself learn how to not repeat the same mistakes. I can then respond in a healthier manner the next time I encounter a similar situation.

Your journal won’t get offended. So genuinely let it all out and relieve yourself of the weight of taking everything personally.

What does our data say?

While journaling has a lot of personal benefits, it still ultimately depends on how you process things as a person. Still, the benefits of journaling cannot be neglected. We’ve interviewed 22 people who’ve used journaling as a way to overcome struggles of mental health. Here are the things that these people have overcome:

Our most recent journaling interviews:

How The Support of Others Helped Me Heal After a Mental BreakdownJournaling and Therapy Helped Me After Surviving a Car Accident and a Late Pregnancy LossHow Self-Care and My Infrared Sauna Blanket Help Me Navigate CPTSD and Fascia PainHow Journaling and Regulating Emotions Helps Me Deal With Depression and AnxietyDealing With ADHD and Anxiety And Becoming a Happier MeRecovering From Chronic Pain and Long-COVID With Emotional Healing MovementOvercoming Trauma and Depression With Therapy, Journaling and Self-CareHow an ADHD Diagnosis Helped Me Understand My Life and Turn It Around With TherapyTherapy and Medication Helped Me Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Burnout From WorkMy Struggle With Abandonment And Anger Through Resilience and Forgiveness

2. Ask yourself if the feedback or statement is true to you

Many times, I take something personally because I am accepting a statement as true with no examination. But stop and ask yourself if you think there is any truth in what the person is saying.

For example, has anyone ever told you that they think you try too hard? It’s a piece of feedback I’ve heard throughout the course of my life.

I used to accept it and let it hurt my feelings. But when I grew up, I started to take a harder look at this feedback.

I asked myself if I honestly thought I tried too hard. The truth was there were many times when I felt like my effort simply matched the task.

When I took a really hard look at it, I realized that most of the people telling me I was trying too hard weren’t trying at all.

I decided that I didn’t find this feedback to hold any truth to it. And that made it easier to let it go instead of internalizing it.

3. Work on your confidence

Everyone tells you to be confident. I feel like I’ve been told that since I was young.

But why does confidence matter when it comes to taking things personally? Confident people aren’t as reactive to things that could hurt them.

Confident people love themselves enough to let go of external feedback. And confident people are okay with not being everyone else’s cup of tea.

I’ve had to work at building my confidence in myself over the years. I’ve done it by directly asking for feedback that I know may not be positive.

I’ve also built my confidence by respectfully setting boundaries. This was especially important in relationships where people were continually saying unkind things.

If you foster a sense of confidence in who you are, you don’t take things personally because you start to realize how awesome you are.

4. Realize that we all struggle with communication sometimes

Unfortunately, we all say things we don’t necessarily mean. And other times we just communicate using the wrong words.

Be patient with your fellow human beings because we all mess up. I know I’ve said things that I didn’t intend to hurt someone, but they did.

When you take the time to remember that the person communicating may be the problem, it can help you let it go.

Not too long ago I had a friend who told me that I sucked at being a supportive friend. My first reaction was, “Ouch-what did I do to deserve that?”.

Turns out that friend was really upset because her boyfriend had just dumped her. At that moment, I was asking her what she wanted for dinner.

Because I didn’t immediately ask her what was going on in her world, she took her emotions out on me. She did later apologize.

But I came to understand that her emotions were dictating her response. And if I hadn’t let it go, it could have ruined a friendship.

5. Value what you think of yourself more than others’ opinions

This is easier said than done. Trust me, I recognize that.

But if you don’t value your own opinion, then other people’s opinions will always dictate how you feel. And that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I remember in grad school I had a few classmates who thought I was trying to be a teacher’s pet. I went to office hours for extra help and I’d answer questions in class.

From my view, I was trying to learn the material well because this was my future career. But I took this feedback personally for a while. I even tried to stop answering questions in class.

I was self-conscious and wanted to avoid looking like a suck-up. My roommate, who was also my classmate, noticed my behavior.

She asked me why I cared about the opinion of people who I probably wouldn’t talk to a few years from now. It hit me that she was right.

I cared more about my personal efforts and education than their opinions of me. Learn to value your own opinion and suddenly the opinions of others become much less important.

6. Consider seeing a therapist

Sometimes, talking to a therapist or counselor can make a big difference. They can help you figure out why you might feel hurt by things people say or do. It’s like having a coach who teaches you how to handle tough emotions and not take things too personally. They can give you tips and exercises to practice, so you start feeling better about yourself and less bothered by what others say.

A therapist can also help you see things from a different point of view. You’ll learn how to pause and think before you react to someone’s words. This can make you feel more in control and less upset. It’s a good way to get stronger on the inside and handle life’s ups and downs better.

What does our data say about therapy?

We’ve interviewed 83 people who’ve overcome struggles of mental health with the help of a professional therapist. These people have shared their amazing stories with us. Here’s what therapy helped them with:

Our most recent interviews talking about therapy:

My Journey From Hitting Rock Bottom to Overcoming Abuse, Addiction, and Eating DisorderFinding Clarity After an ADHD Diagnosis and Bettering Myself With CBT and MedicationHow I’m Seeking Moments of Happiness Despite Struggling With DepressionHow Boxing and Therapy Help Me Recover My Identity After Extreme Weight LossHow Therapy, Medication and Baking Help Me Navigate Depression and OCDHow I Found My Self-Worth After Battling Chronic Pain, Anxiety and Panic AttacksHow a Mindset Change Helped Me Break Free From Childhood Trauma and ToxicityHealing From Postpartum Depression With Therapy, Friends & ExerciseHow The Support of Others Helped Me Heal After a Mental BreakdownJournaling and Therapy Helped Me After Surviving a Car Accident and a Late Pregnancy Loss

7. Practice staying in the moment

Learning to stay in the moment can also help you not take things so personally. When we’re fully in the here and now, we’re less likely to get lost in our worries about what someone said.

You can try simple things like paying attention to your breath or noticing the things around you to stay present. This helps calm your mind and gives you a break from overthinking.

You can start with just a few minutes a day of trying to stay focused on the present, and then do more as you get used to it. This can be a big help in feeling more at ease and not getting so upset by comments or actions of others. It’s like training your brain to be more chill and less reactive.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Wrapping up

It’s easier to react and take things personally than it is to take the higher road. But taking things personally is a recipe for poor mental health. Using the tips from this article, you can become aware of your own reaction patterns and refine them to reflect your true confidence. You may realize just how good it feels to be back in control of your own emotions again.

When was the last time you took something way too personal? How do you plan to stop taking things so personally? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Ashley Kaiser AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Physical therapist, writer, and outdoor enthusiast from Arizona. Self-proclaimed dark chocolate addict and full-time adrenaline junkie. Obsessed with my dog and depending on the day my husband, too.

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