I know this about myself: I can be too sensitive. It’s a detriment to me. And a detriment to others.
When I got a phone call about the dishwasher, I was bothered. I was in my 20s. I had recently sold my home to an elderly gentleman. The following week, he was calling to yell at me that the dishwasher in the home had overflowed. The kitchen floor was soaked. And it was all my fault.
He was rude.
I was offended.
As we talked, I learned he had put dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher instead of dishwasher detergent. It had bubbled to overflowing. Of course it would.
How was this my fault?
Don’t Believe Everything
We suffer unnecessarily when we take things too personally. That’s why I love my third “Agreement with God” of the four I’ve compiled for myself (See #1, Give the Benefit of the Doubt, and #2, Let Go of Being Right).
# 3. Don’t take it personally.
When we assume someone is being rude to us, we often react badly, defensively. It causes conflict and creates mountains out of molehills.
- How can they do this to me?
- Why don’t they like me?
- Why are they so mean?
And when we get too much praise? We can hold compliments too closely as well, believing every word that is said. We grow proud and haughty and entitled.
When we think everything is about us—good or bad—we’re actually being selfish.
The stories we make up in our head are usually just that: stories.
Whose Movie Is This?
We each cast ourselves as the star (and director and producer) in our own movie. All our life’s plots revolve around us. And all the people in our relationships are supporting actors.
But here’s the catch:
The supporting actors in our movies are actually busy starring in their own movies.
We all make ourselves the center of our universes.
So when our plots intersect, there’s always more going on than we realize.
It’s Not Personal
So don’t take it personally.
The way someone treats us reveals less about us and more about them. Less about our life and more about theirs.
Knowing that others aren’t centered around us keeps us humble.
- It frees us from arrogance.
- It reduces conflicts.
- It stabilizes our relationships.
We are more free to love others with no strings attached when we are less dependent on their approval for our self-worth and when we’re less disturbed by their disapproval.
Emptying ourselves of taking everything personally helps us live like Christ. With more peace, joy, and love. And definitely more grace.
What God Thinks
Jesus depended more on what God thought of him instead of what man thought of him.
Can we believe it for ourselves, too?
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
When God’s thoughts about us are the ones that matter the most, we feel safer, valued, and beloved. His thoughts are true. His thoughts are reality.
He loves us because he is love.
The motivations we attach to others’ thoughts may have portions of truth in them, but they also contain large doses of our imagination. (Don’t take your own thoughts too personally either—you may just be tired or hungry or stressed.)
I later learned more truth about the gentleman and the dishwasher and his soap suds. I met one of his daughters. She told me how concerned they were about him. His dementia was getting worse. They weren’t sure he should even be living alone.
Dementia? I hadn’t known that.
Now it made sense. His rant to me wasn’t about me at all. It was about him.
I didn’t need to take it personally.
I rarely should.
It’s not about me as much as I think it is.
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When have you been too sensitive? Do you ever take things too personally? Please share your thoughts here.
We sung this song, Abba, with our church yesterday. It moved me. It fits here.
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See all 4 agreements (click on individual infographics)
- When You’re Spiritually Thirsty, Where Do You Drink?
- Is Your Phone Changing You?