I had an appointment with a new coaching client at 1:00 p.m. at my office. The client confirmed his appointment via email the day before. At 1:00 p.m. he was not there; at 1:15 p.m. he was not there. At 1:25 p.m. I called his cell phone. The call went directly into voice mail. By the way, this incident took place before the advent of text messaging.
I said to myself, “This guy is not coming. What did I say to him that would make him change his mind about meeting me? I ruminated about all possible things I said to turn him off. Emotionally, I beat myself up good.
So, what happened next? To my surprise, he arrived at 1:30 p.m. I wrote down the wrong time in my calendar. I was exhausted after the session and my exhaustion was not based on what we accomplished. I was quick to blame myself for things that had nothing to do with me.
If you read self-help books that give advice on how not to take things personally, the usual clichéd suggestion is: “Don’t take things personally!” This is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. How do you do that? We’re not computers that can be instantaneously switched off so we don’t take things personally.
I’m not suggesting that you drop everything and make an appointment with a psychotherapist to explore why you take things personally. I am suggesting you consider the following:
- Acknowledge that some part of you does take things personally. A part of you – not all of you. This part of you is not all encompassing.
- The part of you that takes things personally is not necessarily bad. It’s not a deficit in your personality.
- There are other parts of you that are confident, compassionate, and accepting. Keep these parts in mind.
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