After a conversation with an ex partner a little while ago, I had a realization about all the moments in my life where I have been hurt, abused, or abandoned – it’s just not personal. It was huge for me because I have made all that has happened to me in my life very personal – the sexual abuse, the infidelity, the divorces, the emotional abuse, all of it. In fact, my past experiences became my identity. By making it personal, it took away my power and made me a victim. By making it personal, I couldn’t heal and move past it.
My childhood was less than perfect, yes. But here’s the deal – my parents were just people who at times were just batshit crazy and messed up. They had their own issues, baggage and desires. They made decisions based on what they wanted and needed and although their decisions impacted me, they weren’t personal to me. I am not saying I was never considered in any of their decisions because I am a parent and I know all too well how many times you make decisions based on your child’s needs. However, the decisions that resulted in my parents getting divorced and the abuse and all the weirdness and drama that went on were solely based on their own needs and desires and had nothing to do with me. I was impacted by it and at times hurt by it, but it wasn’t done to hurt me. It was like being in an accident – you may have been hurt but the damage wasn’t intentional, it’s just the consequence of what happened.
Likewise with my personal relationships. I have had my share of failed relationships and I see now how I played a role in choosing those relationships based on my own needs and issues. However, I have also seen that some of the issues that I felt were my fault and I made so personal had, in fact, absolutely nothing to do with me. I was affected by the issues and I made them personal, but I was wrong in doing so. I realized that all the time I spent beating myself up and telling myself I wasn’t good enough or lovable enough or attractive enough or whatever because of how things ended was a huge waste of my time, energy and emotions. I am not saying I didn’t play a part in those relationship ending because it takes two to make it work or fall apart, but there were some issues that had absolutely nothing to do with me and I was not right in making them personal.
There are some valuable lessons in all of this. Even in relationships that are working and great, I need to remember not to make anything that happens so personal. I need to learn that some things people say or do just have nothing to do with me. This frees me up from having to be offended, hurt or upset so often. It helps me to see things from more than just my own perspective. It helps me to open my mind to seeing things from a wider perspective. I realize that instead of making things so personal I could choose to be curious and open up the lines of communication to have a conversation around what is going on for the other person.
How can taking life less personally make you happier and more at peace? What could change or heal in your life by taking a step back and seeing sometimes it’s really not personal? What could you learn about yourself by doing this? And how could this improve the relationships you have? Even though life feels very personal to each of us, much of what happens to us really is not personal.