*Disclaimer: This post does not address/condone criminal behavior, as we have much to improve on as a society. Its focus is on individual healing and not on ethics.
I once dated a guy who repeatedly told me that “people are all just doing the best that they can through life.” And, every time he said those words to me, it would drive me crazy. I’ve always thought that phrase is a cop out, an excuse to not do better, be kinder, to try harder.
But, once I started looking for more substance in the phrase, I was able to make peace with it by understanding that one intention behind it is to convey that people don’t act to inconvenience you. Their actions are based on their story, not yours.
When your coworker fails to respond to your ‘good morning,’ it’s not because you suck or smell, it’s not about you at all. Chances are it is because your co-worker is distracted by the happenings in her life, or because she had the morning from hell.
Someone not responding to your morning greetings is easy to swallow, but it gets trickier not to take it personally when you don’t get the job that you interviewed for, or when someone walks out of your life. You know, the bigger decisions that people make that shake you in some way.
It is in those instances that you cannot help but question why.
But, the reality is that it truly is not personal. That job went to someone that was a better match for the role/company, not to a ‘better’ person. The employer was looking for specific skills, for a personality that meshes well with the team that is already established. This doesn’t translate to you not being good enough. It isn’t personal.
The same thing goes with people who walk out of your life. People walk out for all kinds of reasons, but I can guarantee you that that reason is never focused on you. It is focused on them and their needs. People make decisions based on what makes them feel good, what makes sense for them, what they want, what they can and cannot handle.
We all have certain needs, wants, goals that are important to us and the way we prioritize all of those things changes as we go through life. Sometimes those shifts result in the necessity to walk away from certain projects or people.
And, though, sometimes walking away is a very painful experience for someone, it is done because it is what is best for that person at the time.
It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.
You know that clichéd breakup line: “it’s not you, it’s me?” There is merit to it!
We make decisions, whether it be to breakup with someone, or to miss someone’s birthday party, based on our priorities and what we are seeking.
Let me repeat that, we all make decisions based on our priorities and what we want in life, not the worth or value of someone else.
Sometimes it is easy to confuse priorities with how much we value someone or something. We convince ourselves that if someone really valued us, then she would make us a priority. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever way you decide to look at it, life does not revolve around you. This doesn’t mean that you are not valued.
You miss loved one’s birthday parties because you are tired and overwhelmed. You breakup with someone because you don’t want the same thing. You allow friendships to fizzle because your needs are no longer being met by that connection. This doesn’t mean that you don’t value the people who were in your life, that you do not see their worth. It means that you made a decision based on your wants. It wasn’t personal.
At times people are mean, even cruel to us. This, too, is about them and where they are in life. It is a reflection of their struggle, not of your worthiness.
It’s not personal. And, the more that you try to make things personal, the more that you try to question why, the more you try to fill those reasons with your own made up stories, the more likely you are to drive yourself crazy.
So next time someone annoys you, hurts you, enrages you, do yourself a favor and try not to take it so personally, because there is a good chance that it simply isn’t.