It’s natural to take the negative opinions of others to heart. As Dr. Abigail Brenner writes in Psychology Today, people are social beings who define themselves in part by their relationships. But in a world of instant, text-based communication, it’s normal that people’s words are misinterpreted. When the world is busy, people often don’t give much thought to the words they use, even if they cause hurt to others. There are some instant techniques you can use to keep from taking anything too personally, as well as some long-term strategies to remain positive and centered.
Think About the Other Person
Brenner recommends giving some thought to your relationship with the person who hurt you. Ask yourself if this is a relationship that’s important to you and whether their approval is really necessary. Then ask yourself whether the way this person communicated was simply their way of talking. Often, those who make you feel bad make everyone feel poorly just because their method of delivery lacks tact or discretion.
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It’s Not Always About You
Entrepreneur Christine Kane writes that people are busy and have instant access to email. Words written in haste are not always an accurate reflection of their feelings. She reminds people that taking time to re-read an email in a “narrator’s voice” can help to hear it objectively. Even if the words still hurt, it’s important to remember this person may still have a busy life with many priorities. She may have just received bad news or had a horrible day at work — which has nothing to do with you or your relationship.
Their Words Reflect on Them
Taking the old adage that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” a bit deeper, life coach Lukas Schwekendiek reminds readers that what people say is a culmination of their own life experience. He says that what other people think the most about is what they will tend to remark on, even if it’s not something that matters to you. The author gives the example that if you remember everything that’s red in a room, you won’t be able to relate to someone who sees everything as blue.
Learn to Move On
Artists, performers and up-and-coming professionals must always assert themselves to achieve success. It invariably takes more than one resume or audition to get an important job. Receiving criticism or silence is part of the process. Not everyone will like what you do or take the time to give you a chance. Kane says everyone should have a list of prospects. When one doesn’t pan out, simply go on to the next one. She pushes the acronym “SWSWSWSW,” which means, “Some will, some won’t. So what? Someone’s waiting!” It’s a reminder not to get hung up on one person’s opinion.
Stay Healthy and Well-Rested
You probably know it to be true: When you’re tired or haven’t eaten well, you’re more sensitive. It’s harder to let go when you are not feeling your best. So adopt healthy habits to stave off depression and anxiety, which can make other people’s opinions hurt even more. As you commit to good health, draw more healthy relationships into your life. Your friends who support you and make you feel good will make the negative comments of others less important.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that the universe is big and you are small. Many things go on every day, not just in your life, but also in the life of whomever is making you feel bad. Try not to take it personally by knowing that negative comments probably weren’t really about you, and if they were, probably were not coming from someone you want in your life anyway.
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