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Episode 236: Taking Things Personally


And hello to you, and welcome to the Richard Nicholls Podcast. The personal development podcast series that's here to help inspire, educate, and motivate you to be The best you can be! I'm Psychotherapist Richard Nicholls, and this episode is titled Taking Things Personally And if you're ready, we'll start the show!

Hello, you beautiful, wonderful people! What have you all been up to? I've been stretching my comfort zone a bit. I directed a play! I've been acting on stage for 20 years or more, but I've never directed before, which was interesting. I think I'd much rather be up on the stage, though. It's a lot less stressful.

It was great, though. No one walked out halfway through, which is always nice. That did happen to a play I was in once. We did a children's play one afternoon, and someone came in not realising it was for kids, and left at the interval. Which we totally understood, of course, and I'm glad someone overheard them talking, so we knew why they left, so that we didn't take it personally.

We knew it was because of them and not because of anything we'd done. But it's hard for some people to not take things personally though, because there's a correlation with low self esteem and that's a fairly lengthy job to improve. Not impossible. Otherwise I wouldn't have a job. And actually even just being a listener to my podcast series will improve your self esteem.

If you listen and learn, it just takes quite a while for it to become permanent. So work on that and it is going to be easier to let things that people do or say just bounce off you. But what can we do to create a positive effect right now? Are there things we can do to help prevent us from taking things personally?

Because in doing so, you might find it's got a positive influence then on your self esteem. Which is maybe a big part of why you take things personally in the first place. As always, I think it starts with understanding it. Getting some awareness of the mistakes in your thinking, that then allows you to see things from a different angle.

When I was a manager, back in the day, a colleague of mine once said to me the immortal words, How could you do that to me? Because I'd listened to somebody else's perspectives on a problem that they'd got in the office. How could you do that to me? And that's an important thing to challenge. Because, like someone walking out of a children's play about a rat who lives in a rubbish dump, it wasn't about them at all.

But some people do feel as if everything is about them. You might think of it as narcissism, but Paranoia is probably closer to the truth. There's a feeling that everyone is always thinking about them, judging them, and that is not a happy place. So please don't belittle anyone who ever says something like that to you, because even though all you might have done was forgot to reply to a text message, which we all do, don't we?

But to someone with a damaged view of how they fit in in the world, that might be a massive rejection for them. Earth shattering. Even though it's a tiny, insignificant thing to you, it might feel like the worst thing in the world to them. And of course, if it was the worst thing in the world, then you wouldn't laugh at them and say, Don't be daft.

For someone with rejection sensitivity, it's more than just a slow reply to a text message. To them, it feels like you've just got them sacked. And if you feel like that sometimes, if you hear, How could you do that to me? in your head a lot, then firstly, just check. Is it really targeted at you? Is this actually about you?

Check the source of the information. Look at where it's coming from. In the same way that if you ask an Audi dealer what the best make of car you should buy is, they'll say Audi. You ask a Lexus dealer, they'll say Lexus. To them, they're being honest. Maybe they truly believe it, but that doesn't make it right.

So if someone does hurt you in some way, like criticise you, and you feel hurt, just check. Do they count as a good source of information? Do they even know you? Do you like and respect them? Are their views important to you? Because whether it's with a car dealer or a toxic family member, some people's opinions you can take to heart, others you take with a pinch of salt.

If it's a one off, drunken, and let me tell you what I think of you Criticism. Then you probably know it doesn't come from a genuine place. They're drunk. They don't actually mean it. It's hard to let it go. Leave them to sober up and not take it personally. But they made a mistake. Humans do. We're a bit crap like that.

We make mistakes. We say things we don't mean just because we want something to say. And we displace our frustrations about something or somebody else onto innocent people who don't deserve it. People do that, but not often. Not habitually. If someone is consistent in their criticism towards you, then you might have to protect yourself and limit contact a little.

But it's not easy to limit contact with someone who's toxic to you, if you have to work with them, or if you're related to them. But at least it's easy to see that their actions are because of them, not because of you. Unlike an Audi dealer trying to sell you a car, or a friend of mine who got a new job in a bank.

And when a joint friend asked him for some advice as to which banks had the best credit card deals or loans, I think it was, he said, Well, actually My bank has some great deals. They're better than any others. Well, isn't that a coincidence? And it wasn't in any way malicious, but the guy had been working for this bank for a couple of weeks, and he was really committed to the idea of supporting them.

And that narrowed his beliefs down a bit and stopped him from being so open minded. Some people become narrow minded in their beliefs about lots of things. And for whatever reason, they They refuse to see the bigger picture. And that might mean that they have a different reality. A friend of mine has a farm, not a working farm as such, mostly horses and a couple of chickens, and their boyfriend bought the farm at quite a good price because it was in a mess.

I mean, a real mess. You wouldn't think it could be salvaged. But they worked really hard to tidy it up, and it's an endless, thankless task. And it's looking really nice now. It has been for a little while. But they've both had to work really, really hard and go through some serious Mental health, physical health destroying experiences that I'm amazed they've bounced back from.

And as it was starting to finally come together, someone said to my mate, Oh, it's looking lovely, they said. You've really fell on your feet, haven't you? And my friend just stares at her. Fell on my feet? Yeah, I bet you can't believe your luck. And my friend just smiles and says, It's funny how the harder I work, the luckier I get.

By the way, do you need to use the toilet before you go? It's just through there. And that's probably ignored every text message that they've ever had from them since. Because she felt belittled. Obviously, the message being relayed isn't, Crikey, you've worked hard to make this farm work. This is, this is impressive stuff.

Well done. That's not what was being put across. It was, well, your boyfriend did all this, didn't he? While you just played with your donkeys. Is that right? Now, I don't know why they couldn't see the hard work. I don't know why they wanted to belittle them and believe that it was all luck. If they were a client, we'd unpick it.

But I do wonder if seeing the truth makes them uncomfortable. Seeing evidence that success comes from some real hard graft can make us feel lazy. If we haven't had the same level of And so, as a defence mechanism, we might have to believe that success comes by accident, through luck. So, is someone with that viewpoint a trusted source of criticism?

No, of course not. But that doesn't stop them from hurling criticism at us. Sometimes the reason why criticisms hurt as much as they do is because it goes against our own values, our own moral code. Maybe you wouldn't talk to somebody like that, so why should they? Well, I'm sorry to say, that's irrelevant, because they did.

The fact that you feel that they shouldn't makes no difference, and having a good moral code yourself can backfire. Sometimes when the world doesn't have the same values as you, doesn't see the world in the same way, doesn't care as much as you whether that's about environmental stuff, animal welfare, or just how to treat a fellow human.

Sometimes people do let us down and we have to accept that. We have to accept that it happened and move on from it. And I wish it was easier done than said. Accepting the unacceptable isn't easy, but in doing so, don't let it change who you are. Your values, your personality. I had a client once who was angry because one Friday night whilst they were in bed, someone walking home on the way back from a pub, went into the alleyway in between their house and the next door neighbours, and they took a dump in the alleyway.

And their neighbour was on holiday at the time, so there was only them to deal with it first thing on a Saturday morning. And that's not what you want, is it? It was horrible for them, and it shouldn't have happened. But it did. And they had to deal with it. And staring at it didn't make it go away.

Shouting about how unfair it is didn't make it go away. They had to accept that it happened. They had to deal with it and move on. And feeling angry about something might be warranted. But it won't make it go away. And we need to remember that. Otherwise the only person struggling with it is ourselves.

Like the old phrase of resentment being like drinking poison but expecting someone else to die. That's not how it works, is it? And unless we become a hermit, hiding in a cave, we 100 percent will come under fire at some point. It's inescapable. It's hard to accept that, but accept that we must, unfortunately.

It's odd that a lot of people find happiness in life, because they've lowered happiness. their expectations a bit. You'd think that expecting the best means you carry a feeling of something good coming around the corner all the time, but actually now I don't see that so much. The people that tend to cope well with the critics are usually the ones that have a more realistic view.

They might not expect that criticism is right around the corner, but they know that it will be eventually. Maybe they're aware of their hot spots and they protect themselves, like a bit of extra sunblock on their burnt bits. If you know that something's going to hurt you, you can be prepared for it. The thing is, if you know that the reason you're sore is because of sunburn, you know to put on sunblock.

If you think it hurts because you've pulled a muscle, then sitting and relaxing in the sunshine with your feet up, It's only going to make it all the more painful. And it's the same with our emotions. Understanding why something hurts can protect us from the pain. If someone criticising you reminds you of some difficult experiences from childhood, then you need to own that.

Because sometimes, even well meaning, standard, pleasant advice can feel like criticism if you're that sore. If you start a new job and someone has to show you how the computer system works, but not knowing something in the first place is a reminder of being shouted at by a teacher or a critical parent, then you need to own that.

Be aware. That not knowing something makes you feel insignificant, or stupid, or whatever. When you can accept that it's, that there is the truth, it's easier then to spend a few minutes talking yourself through a process. Even if it takes five minutes to go from, I feel stupid, to, I can learn this. Because you've got five minutes of Is this because of my childhood or is this because of my mum or my dad or that teacher or that bully?

Am I just being reminded of my past here, today? Before you then get to, it's okay that I don't know how to do something. And you practice that and then it becomes, that's fine, I can learn this. Now the first time, like I say, might take five minutes. The next time it's four minutes and 59 and a half seconds and then four minutes 59 and so on and so on.

And eventually. You don't need to have that cognitive process anymore because it's automatic to think, that's fine, I can learn this. So, to sum up, I think we need to find a balance between caring too little and caring too much. If someone criticising your work hurts, It's because you care about your work.

That's a good thing. It's good to be emotionally invested in the things you do. Otherwise your work is kind of pointless. Care too little, and you won't be that happy. But care too much, and And you leave yourself open to perfectionism, which is equally as painful, especially when people criticise. Because people do.

No matter how hard you work, or how perfect you are, being you will never be enough for some people, because they don't want it to be enough. No matter how perfect you are, or how much effort you put in, Being a perfectionist with low self esteem means that doing your absolute best, yet still being criticised, is a reflection on you rather than on the critic.

And so again, you might need to work on that because that's not true. If doing your best isn't good enough, you might need to check as to why. Because it's your best. You literally couldn't do better. And if you're still being criticised, despite that, then their expectations of you need to change. And you can't do anything about that.

Okay, people. Time's up for today. If you're a patron of mine on Patreon. com, then there'll be a hypnotherapy track out later today. This is Monday when you're listening. About letting things bounce off you. Creating a protective shield around you, which follows on nicely from this episode. Go and listen to that if you're a patron.

And if you're not, well, there's a seven day free trial. So you've got no excuse. And you never know, you might like the extra stuff that I make each week. You might find you'd like to stick around for the sake of six quid a month. So go forth and make your day amazing in any way you can. Have a super week and I'll be back before you know it.

See ya!