Many people take everything personally. It’s when they think they’re the cause of things they are not responsible for. As a result, they feel unhappiness, anxiety, and ultimately, self-blame.
Personalization is one of the ten most common cognitive distortions. It appears in two forms, and in this article, we will cover both of them. So, if you take things too personally, see which form of personalization you have and how to counter it.
Struggles and disappointments are inevitable events in life. But, you see them as your fault. For example, if you didn’t get the promotion you expected, you immediately jump into a conclusion that you are not good enough.
But, there are so many other explanations that you forget to consider. Maybe the promotion went to the boss’s niece. Or, the company is having problems with budgeting.
Another example is when your friend cancels the meeting. You never stop to think whether they are the ones who have a problem, and not you. Maybe they have a problem in the family, or at work.
But, you immediately conclude that they don’t want to see you.
One way is to be aware that you have a tendency to blame yourself for everything. Think if your response is reasonable and rational. In this way, you’ll realize that blaming yourself for every struggle and disappointment in life doesn’t make sense.
In a way, you’ll practice mindful awareness that involves self-compassion instead of self-blame. Everyone’s life has bumps and obstacles, so stop taking them so personally.
Another way to counter the first form of personalization is to realize that you often don’t know why people act the way they do. Your friend doesn’t call you for days, your co-worker avoids talking to you, and your partner is irritable– it’s not your fault.
Your friend could be busy with some family issue, your co-worker could be worried about some personal matter, and your partner could be irritable because of a problem at work.
To conclude, you can’t always know why people act in a certain way. Don’t blame yourself, and stop taking their behavior personally.
This is such a big burden to impose on yourself. For some reason, you think you are responsible for other people’s ability to succeed, be happy, or minor things like whether they had a fun time when you visited them.
There’s no need to do this to yourself, so here’s what you can do.
A good way to counter this destructive thinking is to question the validity of your conclusion that it’s your fault for other people’s struggles and disappointments.
Just think about a person you think you are responsible for them, and fill in the blank:
“I am responsible for their _______!”
Possible options can be social life, happiness, grades in school, having a good time, an ability to stay in a relationship and succeed in life.
Now, think if this is really how life works. It’s not. You are not responsible for how good another person is doing. Their successes, happiness, and disappointments depend on their childhood influences, personal life history, character, and even genetics. You have nothing to do with it.
The next step is to tell yourself that you are not responsible for the disappointments and struggles of that specific person. You can help as much as you can, but you don’t have the power to change their life.
Overcoming this destructive thinking can be a challenge. You have to put a lot of effort to finally stop feeling responsible for others. And, once you succeed, it’ll be so freeing.