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What Does It Mean To Take Something Personally?
By Art Ramsay

 During the past three years, I have written several articles about how ‘taking things personally’ (TTP) can disrupt your life, and how to change that. For many people, TTP is a way of life. It is how we grew up and learned about the world we live in. If someone or something tries to change this way of thinking, we rebel, because we are already programmed to see the world a certain way.

 Each one of us, and there are over six billion, are born and begin learning immediately about the world we now live in. But, and this is critical, each one of us is taught a slightly different way, about the same things. Therefore, we all have a different perspective about everything.

 This situation further exacerbates separation, of which I spoke in a couple articles recently. The mindset of separation shuts down communication and alienates people from each other. When this happens, the probability of taking personally a remark, look, or gesture from someone increases

 Taking things personally could be defined as a feeling that someone is attacking you; that whatever happened was aimed at you and no one else. The reason you feel attacked is because the remark, or whatever, triggered a subconscious belief that either conflicted with something you believed, or some hurtful past event is brought to the surface.

 Let’s look at some examples. John believes that war is wrong, and is always looking for peaceful solutions. Someone makes a remark to him that “peaceniks will bring this Country down by letting terrorist take over.” John thinks the remark was aimed at him and feels attacked. He tries to defend his position and an argument ensues. Same subject, different views.

 Another example. Gail is with some friends discussing clothes. Her friend, Lynn, a ‘neat freak’, notices a thread coming out on Gail’s sweater and offers to fix it. Gail feels the remark is a ‘put down’ by Lynn and feels attacked. A hurtful past event, a remark made by her mother about the clothes she wore to school, buried in her unconscious mind, has been triggered and comes to the surface.

 I could give dozens of similar examples of how TTP causes pain and resentment, but the two above show you the two prime ways TTP happens. Since this mindset is so common, you need techniques to either avoid the situation, or even better, ways to not TTP when one of your ‘buttons’ is pushed.

 Since our beliefs are at the foundation of our ‘buttons’, they are what we need to work on; quite simply: no beliefs, no buttons. You might think that by ‘beliefs’ I mean what you believe in on a conscious level. While they can often lead to the kinds of responses cited above, it is subconscious beliefs, your so-called ‘buttons’ that trigger the beliefs you have ‘buried’ over time.

 The only way to reveal these ‘hidden’ beliefs simply is to become aware of your reactions and responses when you TTP. At this point you begin playing detective by exploring first, what belief may have triggered the response, and second, determine where it came from.

 You will need to ask yourself questions in order to reveal the belief. “What made me react/respond that way?”, “Where did that come from?”, “Why did I say/feel that?” and so on. You get the idea.

 Once you have discovered a belief, where it came from is important to release it. Let’s say you lash out at someone, who said you were childish. When you ask a question like “Where did that come from?” you may remember a time when a parent or teacher, said or implied that you were not good enough, or “you act like a child”. This procedure will prepare you to release the belief.

 Releasing the belief may not be simple, and will most likely, take several attempts. There are many ways to release a belief. One simple way is to write it on a piece of paper, thank it for helping you at the time it was formed , and telling it you no longer have need of it; or something like that. Then burn it.

The processes above will take some practice and perseverance, but the rewards afterward will be well worth the effort. You cannot continue to live in society and experience peace, if you do not explore what I have given above. The hidden beliefs have got to go.

 Remember I mentioned earlier that you could also just avoid the confrontation. You can easily do this only when you have gotten to a place in your mind where you know that what the other person said about you is their ‘button’ so to speak, and has nothing to do with you. This takes practice and self-confidence to assert that what just happened had nothing to do with you.

 Here is the way you would look at any ‘confrontation’ – if I put down someone else it is my belief exerting itself; if someone else puts me down, it is their belief exerting itself. If you can get to a point to follow this mindset, TTP will never surface again.

 Awareness, practice, awareness, practice, etc. This is what it takes to move out of fear/stress and into peace/tranquility. You most likely would not be reading this article if this were not your desire. You will not change anything in your life, if you do not move away from the habits that keep you locked to a certain way of living. To do this takes a commitment to begin to live a happier, more peaceful life NOW.

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