Taking Things Too Personally

“I take things too personally” is a remark I hear frequently from my patients, associates, colleagues, and friends. Many people become hypersensitive, defensive, and full of self-doubt because of this problem.   

  • If you fail to get an invitation to lunch, a party, or a wedding, do you take it personally and then doubt yourself and your popularity?
  • If someone else gets the contract, do you believe you have failed to deliver?
  • If your boss forgets to say good morning, do you automatically think that he/she is angry with you?
  • If your spouse comes home crabby, do you feel responsible, guilty, irritated, defensive, or crabby yourself?
  • If your guests want to go home early, does that immediately suggest they dislike your company?
  • If your daughter is unhappy, do you start concluding that you have to be unhappy in order to show her how much you care?
  • If several of your colleagues are going to lunch together and you are not invited, do you worry they will talk about you at lunch?

We can have our whole day ruined because someone else’s behavior rubs off on us and we feel responsible. We find that whenever someone else is upset, we feel great pressure that somehow we are to blame. As a result, we take their behavior personally, which makes us defensive, anxious, miserable, and insecure.

It is important to gain some understanding as to the root of this problem and look at some possible reasons why we become hypersensitive and take things too personally. With this understanding, you will gain some valuable perspective on how to handle the problem more effectively. 

Consider these roots of taking things too personally:   Read more

Staying Focused and Effective during this Global Pandemic Crisis 2020

How do we start effectively coping with our anxiety, fear, catastrophizing, awfulizing, and obsessing?

How do we live with less, manage in the meantime, do the maintenance on our relationships that matter, stay strong, and begin strategizing about our next chapter?

Our world has been profoundly shaken with the latest virus that has impacted our lives in the last few weeks. This pandemic is spreading quickly around our planet and as a result we are continually being updated by the media with some very scary and disturbing developments. 

  • Many thousands of people are becoming globally infected with Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Many people are dying from it
  • We know entirely too little about how it spreads and who is likely to be infected
  • Treatment and vaccines have yet to be developed and will probably arrive in a year or longer
  • Testing initiatives and services have been limited
  • Schools, businesses, sporting events, entertainment venues, large meetings, modes of transportation, et al are being closed until further notice
  • Some entire countries are now being required to stay indoors at home
  • The escalation of the problem continues and it appears that we all have to be concerned about protecting ourselves from the possibility of infection
  • Many people are so anxious that they are cleaning out stores of their supplies of toilet tissue, food, water, home supplies, disinfectants, etc.
  • And, perhaps worst of all, many of us are beginning to panic, resulting in a variety of reactions… shock, disbelief, fear, agony, sadness, guilt, weakness, anxiety, obsession, anger, helplessness, suspicion, and frustration

This international pandemic crisis has created a huge distraction from our daily routines. 

Many of us are experiencing loss of income, requirements to remain quarantined, and dilemmas on how to remain safe while trying to stay strong, and keep the business of living at some level of functional.

In addition, there exists a significant disruption in our perception of control of our own lives.  Because unpredictable is now the new normal, and many of us are also in the deep end of the emotional roller coaster, we can be easily distracted from our work, our responsibilities and our focus.  What can we do?  How do we stay focused instead of constantly worrying or remaining hostage to the latest newsbreak?

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YOU ARE PREVENTING WHAT YOU WANT

When You Want Connection and Reinforcement from Others

Do you want to be complimented, loved, admired, and respected?

You may be unaware that you are continually preventing the very thing you want.

After several decades of experience in my psychotherapy practice helping people to achieve much more functional lives and satisfying relationships, it is clear to me that virtually everyone wants the same thing.   Read more

HAPPY OR UNHAPPY?

Most of us want to be happy, and yet, too many of us are consumed with our crankiness, fear, depression, feeling unloved, insecurity, being miserable, feeling inadequate, feeling betrayed, etc., essentially being wrapped up in chronic unhappiness!

In addition, I am often struck with the large population of people who are persistently stuck in unhappiness. These malcontents are often whining, bellyaching, criticizing, obsessing, bleating, condemning, catastrophizing, awfulizing, and complaining. 

I believe that people will keep choosing familiar routines like this simply because they are familiar, regardless of whether they like it or dislike it.  Some examples of this are below. 

THE RESTAURANT

You go to the same restaurant and order the same item on the menu. This routine is common and it is a great habit if you really like that restaurant and that particular item on the menu. Some of us do! Read more

Pride is Very Expensive!

DOES PRIDE GET IN THE WAY OF COMMON SENSE?

Do you know someone who:

  • Holds on to a grudge for years
  • Has an inflated view of their own importance
  • Is self-righteous, sanctimonious, and “holier-than-thou”
  • Likes to win and hates to lose
  • Has to be “right”
  • Likes to argue and debate everything
  • Wants to avoid taking responsibility
  • Refuses to admit mistakes
  • Criticizes and blames everyone else
  • Believes life must be fair and equal with everyone all the time
  • Is suspicious of others and constantly defensive
  • Is easily hurt, victimized, and takes everything personally
  • Covers up hurt with anger
  • Plays victim and whines about the delicious agony of life
  • Has difficulty recovering from a failure or set-back
  • Denies their bad conduct and instead protests that they were misunderstood
  • Accuses others of the very behavior they routinely display

Read more

Professional Victims

It appears that playing “victim” in the U.S. is getting more popular these days. I’m struck with all the whining, blaming, accusing, and bellyaching.     It seems like playing the victim is now becoming fashionable!   

Many people unconsciously play a victim role and, in so doing, they enable others to mistreat, criticize, take advantage, and be disrespectful to them. Others consciously choose to play victim so that they can continue to be irresponsible and blame others for their misfortunes.  Read more

DEALING WITH SELF-PITY IN OTHERS

How to Deal with People Feeling Sorry for Themselves

When you encounter people who are good at playing the role of professional victim, you will often notice that you routinely get seduced by them because they whine and they want an audience. When people swim around in the pity pot they often want you to feel sorry for them so they can describe the breadth of their terrible situation without any interest in solving it or doing anything about it. They simply want you to pay attention to them while they enjoy the “poor me” and describe the “delicious agony of life.” There seems to be something curiously attractive about being a victim and a martyr… apparently sacrificing yourself does get attention.  They will often say things to you like, “You couldn’t possibly understand what I have been through.”  Then you can expect them to waste your time while they describe the “poor me” in great detail and they can enjoy their victimhood and contest of who is the most oppressed person.  You will want to appear interested and likely conclude that you have enabled them to play victim while you are trying to be nice, empathetic, and appreciative of their plight.

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Enlightened Perspectives

Below are statements gathered from dozens of people, ages 5 to 95, many of which were collected in Live and Learn and Pass it On, Volume II.

For your consideration:

I’ve learned… that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.

I’ve learned… that when you’re in love, and you find your smile, it shows.

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Constructive Criticism

Here is something you have received from others many times over the span of your life:

  • Can I give you some constructive criticism?
  • May I offer some constructive criticism?
  • I have some constructive criticism if you would like to hear it.
  • How would you like to hear some constructive feedback about what you just did?

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