Taking Things Personally And Low Self-Esteem :
If we suffered significant childhood trauma, we are at greater risk as adults of suffering from psychological difficulties, including low self-esteem. And, if we have low self-esteem, we are particularly vulnerable to being hurt by others who criticize us and negatively evaluate us ; to put it in colloquial terms, we may be ‘thin-skinned’ and prone to ‘taking things personally’. (To read my article on the link between childhood trauma and low self-esteem in adulthood, click here.)
So what can we do to stop taking things personally? Below you’ll find several suggestions :
Methods We Can Use To Help Us To Stop Taking Things Personally :
- understand that, often, those who criticize and negatively evaluate others do so because of their own problems – they may be inadequate, unhappy, frustrated, angry etc and displace (take out) these feelings on you or project their own shortcomings onto you (displacement and projection are defense mechanisms – click here to read my article relating to these).
- if a person criticizes you and you feel s/he might have a point, try not to be defensive, but, instead, see if it’s possible to learn from what’s been said and then, if necessary, make changes rather than waste energy feeling bad
- related to the above is the fact we are complex and, often, contradictory beings who make mistakes and that the mistakes that we make are just one aspect of us that does not define who we are
- remember that even the most popular people will always be criticized and disapproved of by some – nobody garners universal admiration, respect and approval
- remember that not everyone has to approve of you all the time for you to live a contented life ; self-esteem is based upon what one thinks of oneself, irrespective of what others think. Allowing others to control how one feels about oneself is to give away power to them that need not be relinquished
- real progress in society is very frequently made by those who are prepared to go against the grain irrespective of making themselves unpopular ; this is a virtue, not a fault and demonstrates strength of mind, character and possession of the courage of one’s convictions
- ask yourself if you may have misinterpreted the situation. For example, if someone seems uninterested in what you’re saying, it may be that they’re preoccupied with their own concerns and not a sign you are boring them. Or if someone you know passes you in the street and seems to ‘blank’ you, could it be they simply didn’t see you?
- realise it won’t benefit you (quite the opposite, in fact) if you ruminate on the perceived insult/slight/criticism etc. -to read my article on controlling rumination, click here
- realize that whilst you cannot control what others think, you CAN control how you react to what they think
- if you have done something wrong remember that, even if you have not been able to stop thinking about it, this does not mean others are thinking a lot about it too – they have myriad other things to worry about and what you do is unlikely to be central to their concerns and thought processes
- develop self-confidence
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)Click here for reuse options!
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