It Isn’t Always About You

Do you tend to take things personally (even when they’re not about you)?

We humans often have a tendency to take things personally. This tendency can also be exacerbated if we’ve experienced relationships where we have had to walk on eggshells and manage someone else’s emotional landscape for them.

When someone is rude or dismissive, we might assume that it’s because we’re boring, or because we said something wrong. When someone is distant, we might assume that we did something to cause that. However, is that really always the most likely option?

While someone’s behaviour can be a direct reaction or response to something we did, that’s not always the case, and someone’s behaviour says more about them than it says about us. Usually, we are not the centre of someone’s universe or the main character of their life, and therefore not the reason for their behaviour.

Assuming responsibility for someone’s behaviour without any actual evidence that you’re at fault is usually not an accurate response to a situation. Exercising healthy self-reflection is obviously a good idea if you feel like someone’s behaviour might be a response to something you did.

However, an emotional mature person (in a situation that does not involve abuse) will tell you if you’ve been upset them instead of expecting you to read their minds. It’s the other person’s responsibility to communicate when they’re hurt or upset instead of expecting others to decipher clues from their behaviour. It’s not your job to play detective or assume responsibility when it comes to how someone behaves.

Instead of their behaviour being about you, they might

  • Be struggling with something personal
  • Have a busy or difficult day
  • Not even realise that their behaviour seems off
  • Be tired, anxious, or nervous
  • Be projecting their insecurities onto you.
  • Feel overwhelmed or scared.
  • Be triggered by something

It’s not about you. Someone’s behaviour usually says more about them than it does about you, and the reason for this behaviour isn’t automatically your fault. What do you think? This is a nuanced topic, so I definitely welcome your views.

30 responses to “It Isn’t Always About You”

  1. Yes, I agree… often it reflects an imbalance of some sort within. Nevertheless, we often take it personally because of the egoic “I” , which we all have been imprinted with , on this planet of duality. Have a great day! 🙏🏻😅🙏🏻

    Liked by 3 people

    • Don’t take anything personally because by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing. When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. Even if others lie to you, it is okay.

      Like

  2. This is so true. Your last bullet point about being triggered, we have no idea what that could be. We might trigger a long ago hurt from childhood in someone. And that someone might not even realize they’re reacting from that long ago hurt and blame another.

    I feel like this is what’s happened to society. People are so easily triggered and don’t realize there is something deeper going on within them they haven’t healed. Instead, they point fingers outward and blame others in society. That’s when it becomes a good time to self-reflect.

    Thanks for sharing this type of topic I thoroughly enjoy. Are you a therapist, btw? Or, do you read a lot on this stuff (like I do)? I enjoy these types of introspection topics you post.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think in closer relationships, such as someone we’re dating or a close friend, we are on their mind more than an acquaintance, but even then it’s important not to internalize everything they say, and as you mentioned, it’s a reflection on the person saying those things and isn’t usually about you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Glad you liked the post. We need to stop taking everything personally. Looking at a situation from a third-person perceptive always gives more awareness into the situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you. I needed someone to tell me this today! We are somehow conditioned to believe that everything is our fault. As a child you are often trained to fix things. One of the things I have learned over the last few years is, that it is not my responsibility to fix others and their problems. I can listen and be there. If someone is being rude, it is not my problem. They can fix their attitude themselves and not at my expense.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You might feel guilty because you hold yourself to unrealistically high standards. This can result in guilty thoughts about what you haven’t done, or haven’t done well enough, even if they’re not your responsibility. At the same time, you completely overlook what you have done well.

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  5. So true, and so easy to fall into the trap of taking responsibility for everyone else’s behaviour. We should try to take a step back and see things from the other person’s perspective, but its not always easy to do and we end up having an emotional reaction to their behaviour too.

    Related to this, I find sometimes that people will make assumptions about why someone behaves the way they do in a particular situation – a student may be acting out in class for example. Rather than thinking about what might be happening in the student’s life to cause this behaviour, its attributed to them just being a bad student, lazy, disruptive etc and the lecturer reacts sternly against the student rather than trying to find out what the underlying causes are – sometimes it can be something we can address – particularly if they are struggling with a subject. Its sad, but I’ve seen students so scared of a lecturer that they won’t ask for help; and the lecturer then puts their behaviour down to students being lazy etc. ~

    I’m sorry if I went off on a tangent, but it makes me angry when a person can do something to help another but won’t/can’t because of this attribution error.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing such a unique well differentiated perspective to the attribution error. I didn’t see this side of things at all. I hope these student find the courage and confidence to be and do better.

      As a recovering people-pleaser, I often need to remind myself that what really matters is what I think of me–and that I’ll think far more of me if I resist the urge to create stories about other people’s actions.

      Today if you start reading into something another person has done and stressing about his opinion of you, remember: There’s a distinct possibility it’s not about you. Until you know, it’s pointless to worry about it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah the truth of my life. But here’s something what Bible says about imposter syndrome

        If you feel dismayed by your inability to match the apparent perfection of others (though no one is perfect), know that weakness does not mean you are a fake Christian! Instead “boast all the more gladly of [your] weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon [you]” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

        Liked by 1 person

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