Addiction and Relationships: Had Enough of People's Opinions? How to Not Take Things Personally
“Don’t take things personally, but don’t condone disrespect.” -Unknown
Not that I have to say it again, because I’m sure you all know this, but other people will always have their own thoughts and opinions about what you do. Sure it might not be all bad, and there are those who care about you and have these thoughts because they want only good things for you, but not one of us is a stranger to the negative ones.
I’ve heard this quote a lot through the years, floating around on spiritual pages and even in a few books, and although I have no idea who the credit goes to I do know that there’s truth to it. But it actually takes time to fully realize that, and it requires some empathy. Actually, in some cases it requires a lot of empathy. And the ability to hold yourself back from making an unwise decision.
Let me elaborate.
Now, I try to make myself as transparent as I can. I like to give details about myself and how I react to situations so that you can get insight from them, but also because I’m here to share my story. The only drawback is that while I try to do that for my own life, the people in my life didn’t make that same agreement, and so I have to try and give clarity without making other people uncomfortable with what I share. This ties into most topics, this one especially, but I will do my best to explain. I just want you all to understand if things get choppy in my explanation.
Alright, back to my point.
There was a friend I had once (and I use that term very lightly), who I thought was actually a friend. They seemed nice enough, and even shared some personality traits and character flaws which made them more relatable. How cool it was to find someone so similar! I think this is the beginning of what could be a pretty awesome friendship!
Until I heard through the grapevine all of the awful things they said about me and my family.
And continue to say about me and my family to this day.
But what did I do to deserve such treatment? I was at least 99.9% sure that my interactions with them were genuine, and I was under the assumption that we were on the same page. Even if there was a misunderstanding, I was sure they would bring it up for clarification.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and for a long time, I harbored resentment.
"How could they be so cruel? Why did they say things that were not only untrue, but incredibly hurtful to me, my partner, and our daughter?"
And so whenever I saw them from that point forward, I ignored them. Not a word was said to them, not even a glance in their direction, nothing to acknowledge their presence whatsoever.
Which of course drove them crazy and on to saying more unappealing things about me.
But after a while I realized, it’s not my problem. Like, at all.
Sure, it bugs me when I hear the things they say, but after that, what difference does it make? I know that I’m not those things, and it’s apparent that no matter what my actions are more things will be said anyways. The resentment and anger I have over it doesn’t do anything to them, and only makes me miserable. Holding a grudge might be something I have a habit of doing, but it honestly doesn’t help anyone and just adds more mental clutter that isn’t needed.
After this little revelation I made a point to remind myself that it has nothing to do with me. Really, it doesn’t. I realized that they themselves were miserable, hurting, and not doing well, and that caused the constant stream of negativity coming from them. No amount of action on my part would change that, but a little empathy would do wonders in helping me to deal with it.
Let’s give one more for another example, yeah?
This one is another friend of mine. And sure, I am to believe that they care about me and have my best interests in mind, but it stings every time and it’s hard to find out exactly where it’s coming from to be labeled as something that’s in my best interest. In the long run though, it doesn’t matter as long as I know how to handle it.
For a while it seemed that every time I was in the vicinity of them they had something to say (now it’s drastically less but still something that pops up from time to time). And in the beginning, I valued it. I appreciated the opinions, even if they were a little hard to hear, and I thought it made me better able to adapt as these were sides that I wouldn’t have thought on my own.
But as time went on and I was able to grow and learn on my own through my own mental filter, these talks and comments became more difficult to hear. I started to think that maybe the opinion was a little too outside of the situation, and as such, could never see the bigger picture, the smaller more in-depth picture, or how things really were. This resulted in a situation where I was then anxious about coming into contact with this person, until I realized that I had to establish boundaries and “agree to disagree” as no commonality could actually be reached and arguing wasn’t going to do anything for either of us. But, this didn’t mean that either of us were bad people, it just meant that we had differing opinions and I shouldn’t take anything personally as it was my own journey and life and could do what I saw fit, regardless of what they thought I should do.
So, I hope you will take away from this that people will talk, they will talk about you and they will talk to you, and it’s up to you to decide if what they say is helpful or hurtful. From there, take what you wish and leave the rest to the past, because if it’s not helping you, what are you holding on to it for? Acknowledge the fact that everyone will have their own thoughts and opinions on how you live your life, and only you have the power to let it affect you.
Are you letting it hold you down, or are you letting it free you?