Why You Shouldn't Take Things Personally

June 3, 2020 Michael Bjorn Huseby

Refusing to take things personally can lead to a more relaxed life where you aren't constantly worrying about being criticized. When you stop taking things personally, you can boost your self-confidence, worry less, and rebound from failures with enthusiasm. 

What Happens When We Take Things Personally 

When we take things personally, we attribute our failures to our character instead of our circumstances. If we're not careful, we start telling ourselves stories about how we're unworthy of love, respect, or success. Taking things personally can lead to a vicious cycle where we lose confidence and put ourselves in jeopardy. 

For example, let's say you applied for a job and were rejected in the final round. After spending hours interviewing with multiple people in the organization, they decided to hire someone else. This recently happened to me. 

The hiring manager could have chosen another candidate for a variety of reasons. Perhaps someone else had more experience. Maybe another candidate's mom was best friends with the boss. 

However, if you take things personally, you attribute your failure to your personality. You might feel that you're not smart, attractive, or personable enough to get a job. Then, the next time you go in for an interview, you'll lack confidence, lowering your chances of making a positive first impression. Each time you get rejected, you'll continue taking it personally and your confidence will steadily decline. 

How to Stop Taking Things Personally 

To help prevent your self-esteem from spiraling out of control, imagine reasons for a negative outcome that don't have to do with your self-worth. For example, if you don't get a job, you can take a moment to consider that there was a pool of 100 other highly-qualified candidates. If you're walking down the street and someone yells an insult at your from his or her car, realize that person's probably having a terrible day that has nothing to do with you. 

We're all living in our own little movie, assuming we have much more influence on the world than we really do. Sometimes outcomes are the product of luck and randomness, no matter how much we prepare. Not everything will go our way, and that's okay. If you don't succeed, realize you're in good company. Billions of other people have had countless setbacks too, and they've ended up just fine. Just because you fail doesn't mean you're a failure. 

Sometimes Taking Things Personally Is Reasonable

Of course, if someone singles you out and attacks your character, you should feel empowered to defend yourself. Nobody deserves to be treated like a doormat. However, be sure to choose your battles wisely. Sometimes, taking a deep breath and moving on is the most effective medicine. 

APA Reference
Bjorn, M. (2020, June 3). Why You Shouldn't Take Things Personally, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Michael Bjorn Huseby

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Lizanne Corbit
June, 3 2020 at 1:34 pm

I love the distinction, "failing" absolutely does not make you a "failure". It can be so easy for us to equate an action or a circumstance with an identity, and that can be incredibly damaging. I love this reminder to be aware of how we take things, what meaning we attribute them and to pause and look at things from a "non-personal" point of view -- so often it really doesn't have anything to do with us and there can be great freedom and positivity that comes of that realization. Wonderful piece.

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