Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the way in which we are wired to take things personal. It’s something I have been trying hard to move away from. In almost all of our relationships and experiences we are likely participating in the “single player” function. When we are functioning in that mode, we are so often stuck in our own heads, and likely believe that all of what is happening around us, including the actions, thoughts, and feelings of others – particularly has to do with us.
It’s almost so instinctual that I’ll even hear myself doing it toward our children! Scary, but true. I’m sure other parents kind of know what I’m talking about here – if they act up while we are out, there are times I am tempted to take it to heart, and very personal, thinking to myself “why can’t they just behave for 5 minutes while we are in the store?” If they wake up in the middle of the night and wake me, for a split second I am tempted to think “come on. they know I’m tired, why would they wake me up!” – but in reality their little minds do not think that way. All they know is they heard a sound, woke up, and are pretty sure there’s an effing monster under their bed (even though their bed has no room under it for a monster to lurk- not comfortably at least). In the moment of the hard crap, it’s almost instinctive to think that what my children are doing is in direct correlation to me.
The truth is this: what others say, do, think, or feel (or lack thereof) has little to do with us and everything to do with them. Yes, even children. Even children have needs and wants particular to themselves (who knew?!) because they are actual little people who are having their OWN experiences.
Because so many of us are living as the center of our world, it can be so hard to remember that the people around us are experiencing situations in a completely unique way, and their way can be similar or completely opposite to how we are experiencing it. It can be hard to remember this, especially when someone hurts you. Or when someone breaks your trust. Or when someone does something that (in your humble opinion) would obviously cause a reaction in you. “Why would they do that? They KNEW it would hurt me.” Maybe they did know, maybe they didn’t.
Here’s the thing, well, a couple of things. ONE: it’s entirely too taxing to try to guess why anyone does anything- because life is 100% subjective and our paths and journeys are exclusive. A difficult thing to come to terms with, but important, nonetheless. And TWO: it’s not your place to figure out someone’s motives, and it won’t bring you peace. This can be crazy hard to come to terms with when you feel like you need to “say something” to someone so they can know what you think. But the truth is, what you think about someone else’s choices only needs to be said when that person asks you. (Of course, if you’re dealing with a dangerous situation of any form, you should say or do what you need to keep yourself and loved ones safe- what I am talking about here are general opinions.)
I think this is essentially why it’s so important to know your personal boundaries, and to take care of yourself. Honor how you feel, listen to what your body is saying to you, always. No one can feel things for you, no one can change anything in your life except for you. What a powerful gift. Knowing this makes you free from having to wonder about the meaning of anyone else’s actions. Knowing this allows you to start to come face to face with the fact that you are responsible for you. And not for “them”. This is something I am mindful of teaching my children, because while circumstances may be what they are, my children are still wholly responsible for their actions (which have consequences, good or bad).
I one hundred percent believe in the idea that Life does not happen to you it happens for you. So YOU can learn what you need to learn. All of this is true for others, too. Even when I deeply resent their choices.
Here’s the takeaway, the most important part in all of this: when you come face to face with adversity or trials in relationships, or even just someone being a little too sassy, you can rest assured that the only part of the equation that you are responsible for and the only part you can actively control is your part of it. How you react, what you do, or say. You get to make the choice for yourself: am I going to react? Or am I going to use some self control? There is so much power in what we decide.
I’ve been struggling with this a little bit lately regarding certain situations in my personal life, obviously I enjoy sharing my point of view, so it can be hard to keep my mouth shut when it comes to certain situations… which is why I decided to write this here. If anyone else struggles with taking things personal from time to time, just know, I hear you wholeheartedly, and you do have a choice.