When something or someone is upsetting us, the last thing we want to hear is someone telling us that it is not personal. While our feelings are not to be ignored, it is wise to step back and reflect on the situation that is upsetting us. When we pause and get a broader view of any situation, we realize that the way other people act has nothing to do with us. They act that way with everyone. The real problems arise when we make things personal and then act from a belief that we are the victim of someone else’s choices.
One of my reading groups consists of three students who have a tendency to set each other off. Being young, they are not always aware of how they are acting and relating to others. They do not see how it differs from day to day based on how they are feeling. Some days they are the best of pals. Other times they act like it is every student for themselves, or two of them will pair up against the third. One thing we work on, outside of our academics, is not taking what the others are doing personally.
There was a day recently when one student had come to school in a foul mood. He was not too keen to get to work and was outside chatting with another adult before joining the group. This turned out to be a blessing because I was able to prime the other two students. I let them know that if the third student came in grumpy it was not personal and assured them that I would handle it. We agreed that we all have hard days and got to work.
When the third student arrived, it was smooth sailing. Rather than rubbing it in about being late, the other two students did not react at all. This made it easier for our friend to get right to work also. By making it clear that this student’s emotional state was not personal to anyone, the whole group became more supportive. Something that would normally be a dramatic moment turned into nothing at all.
Perhaps you have been feeling challenged by someone in your life. If you can accept that it is not your job to police their behavior, then you will open up the door to freedom and uncover your real power. Hearing someone out is not the same as agreeing with them. Actively listening often resolves issues for both the listener and the person talking by allowing the truth to be realized without judgment. Try letting go of anything you are taking personal in a relationship or situation. It will not take long before you realize that you are not a victim of someone else’s drama and all of your relationships will improve in delightful ways.
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District and the cohost of the inspirational podcast “Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed” on iTunes. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org