Horrible Boss? "Just Don't Take It Personally"

Your boss puts you down, dismisses your ideas, and has no regard for your time. A part of you wants justice, feels cold and cynical, and wants to embrace your inner Tyler Durden - filled with rage and fantasies of revenge. The Internet tells you your superior is a narcissist or a psychopath and there's little hope. And then you friend tells you to "stop taking it so personally."

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When someone is making you feel down and underappreciated, the "don't take is personally" strategy can be very empowering.  

Positives

  1. It gives you a choice over how you feel, rather than being at the effect of someone else's actions
  2. You own your emotions and feelings
  3. You can see bad behavior for what it is, and acknowledge and accept it

Negatives

  1. Over a long period, this allows you to tolerate or enable an abusive person
  2. Unless you explore why you're feeling upset by the other person's behavior, you are invalidating your own emotions

 

There's an incredible opportunity in studying these moments which throw you off your game.  On one hand, you can get fired up and yell at the offender or complain to a colleague. On the other hand, you can shut up and suck it up.

However, there's a third option in "not taking it personally" combined with using the moment as an opportunity to learn more about yourself.

  1. Realize the offender's behavior is not about you. Put yourself in their shoes: what's happening for them that they would react to you in this way?  
  2. What's making you feel so bad? What is the offender doing specifically that's making you feel upset?

Part 1: It's not about you! What's leading them to behave this way? In analyzing the motivation of the offender, you'll begin to realize whatever they're going through is coming out in behavior towards you.  It's not ok that they are being abusive or dismissive, and i'm not advocating that you tolerate the behavior for a long period of time, however, as you start to realize they are not as in control of their behavior as it previously felt - like an intentional act of hurt towards you - you can start to feel a little bit bad for them that they are so unconscious of their behavior, and realize its not really about you - it's not actually personal.

Part 2: It's not about them either!  What's making you feel so upset?  What feeling did the offender create in you?  Anger, resentment, sadness, feeling worthless, are you hungry for justice?  Who else in your life created this feeling in you?  The offender doesn't have some magical power over you to make you hurt at your core, they are triggering an old sensitivity in you left by someone else.

Rather than suppressing your feelings and emotions, Empower Yourself, and Stop Taking it Personally.  Use these opportunities to realize its not about you.  While this introspection and examination may allow you to tolerate a situation, you may also begin to realize your counterparty has fundamental behavioral issues and it is time to terminate your relationship.