Should you take it personally or not?

Posted 11/14/19

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

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Should you take it personally or not?

Posted

This column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

Dear Dr. Ted:I have noticed that many people will say, "Don't take it personally!" when something upsets me. This seems almost impossible as the world around me does impact me and then I feel very dismissed. What are your thoughts on taking or not taking things personally?

Thank you, Steve

Dear Steve:

This is a great topic that seems to have many facets. It is easy to take just about anything personally as your senses will be gathering data all the time and from anywhere it can gather information to see how something may impact you. The difficult part is trying to filter out the information that does not impact your life, and decipher what information truly impacts you.

In addition, with all that data, over what areas do you have power to take action with that information? Your senses are always gathering information to keep you safe. You have an amazing radar system in which your smell, hearing, touch, sight, taste and intuition are always sending you information.

Some of this information is going to stimulate your emotions. This process is partially uncontrollable once it happens. There are some preventative actions, such as wearing a coat on a cold day so that your body does not get cold and become uncomfortable. I wish it were that simple in the interactions of people, but it's not - and to your best ability, trying to have clean and clear boundaries is like wearing a coat on a cold day.

Many people may be in a bad mood or be upset and wreak havoc on their external world by yelling, being rude or any other less mindful behaviors. These actions or energy may not be directed at you (or they are), you may feel hurt, sad, anxious, angry or fearful. At this point, you may be told not to take it personally or that you are too sensitive. This type of deflection can be dismissive of your feelings and has collateral damage due to the behavior of the other person.

Someone can be like an energetic hurricane that may wreak havoc on the environment in its path. Even when not directed at you, their emotional whirlwind may still impact you and decrease your quality of life. It would be great if the emotional damage was cleaned up at this time, but usually that does not happen. How you choose to work with how you have been triggered and how you work to realign yourself emotionally determine emotional healing.

In a perfect world, you would not be able to take on someone else's emotions, and would be free of the emotional havoc in your space. This is close to impossible and it is OK to feel the world around you. Observing it, feeling it, not owning it and letting it go is the trick, and in this process, you may possibly change your personal boundaries with that energy that imbalances you.

This may mean less TV/screen time or news if that is causing emotional distress, how you communicate with a person or who and how you choose to be affiliated with them. Emotions are real and can bubble up in many forms - what and how you navigate your emotions is where you can have choice.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat GWR@newmex.com.

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