I take things personally more often than I probably should.
If I cheerfully say hello to you and you don’t respond with the same enthusiasm, I begin to anxiously think, “was it something I said?”
If I ask someone a question and the response is with a bit of irritation behind it, I begin to assume that it’s because of me.
Can you relate to this or am I on an island on my own with this one?
I realized this week when it seemed like so many people were projecting their emotions onto me in different ways that perhaps I am viewing these situations from the wrong perspective. Allow me to explain.
One day this week, I got a phone call from this individual who was very disrespectful and had got me so heated that I almost hung up the phone on her. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to give away any identifying information, but let’s just say when I was appalled with the way I was being spoken to whilst being asked for information. Candidly speaking, if it weren’t for Jesus, I probably would’ve let her have it, but I digress.
Later on that day, a woman randomly on the street yelled an expletive at me for walking her direction. Keep in mind, I do not know this woman and I was nowhere near her. She beckoned for my attention and when I naively gave it to her because I thought maybe she was asking for directions or help, she says, “move the (bleep) out of my way.”
Well, top of the morning to you, too!
Honestly, by the time my husband got home, I was still seething about the events of the day. I cycled between being sad, anxious, and upset all over again various times throughout the night. In short, I allowed those people to get under my skin and bother me enough to the point where I could enjoy my evening.Sometimes, it's you, but sometimes it's them. Click To Tweet
The more I thought about it and the more unsavory interactions I had, I began to realize that perhaps it’s not me. Perhaps, it’s not something that I am doing or not doing because in both cases, I was very polite. It’s not that I wasn’t being nice enough, so maybe it’s them.
Maybe there’s something going on internally that I cannot see that is bothering them so much that they’re projecting that anger onto me. Perhaps, they’re overwhelmed and I happened to make eye contact with them, giving them an opportunity to unleash the dragon of their disdain.
I was reminded of something my husband told me when I was going through a hard time with someone who was making me feel bad for setting boundaries with them by seeking to emotionally manipulate me. My husband said, “you are not responsible for their reaction. It’s not healthy for them to make you responsible for how they feel.“
Yes, there’s things we do that can affect people in some way and we should take accountability for that. If I step on your foot, I cannot say, “I’m not responsible for your pain” because I am. Perhaps, unintentionally, but I’ve definitely contributed to making you literally feel pain and that’s something that should be owned up to.
Yes, there’s things that someone can be going through that can affect them emotionally.
However, how someone decides to respond to that is completely up to them and you are not responsible for that. How someone decides to respond also doesn’t mean that it isn’t void of consequences or the potential to hurt someone else, either.How someone decides to respond is completely up to them and most times, it has nothing to do with us. Click To Tweet
Friend, when it comes to people, I am learning that I have to not take things personally. I believe in the past week God has definitely been showing me this through the misguided aggression that has slapped me in the fact on Monday. I was angry, hurt, and offended, but once that passed, I began to realize that there was a lesson in this and that perhaps it’s actually not me.
(Sometimes, it could also be people mirroring things in us, but that’s another post for another time.)
I hope the same message can be felt for you as you’r reading this. As much as we may feel like it’s something we’re doing wrong when people approach us aggressively, most of the time, it’s not. Most of the time, it’s people projecting their own pain and frustrations onto you.
Honestly, even as I am writing this, I am sharing this message to myself because it’s so hard not to take things personally if you’re a sensitive person. However, if you haven’t done anything wrong and someone’s just going out of their way to be mean to you, that has everything to do with them and what they’re internally battling and nothing to do with you.
What are your thoughts, friend? Is this something you struggle with?