It’s Not Personal

To Sarah, it seemed like everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.  Her boss was snappy, giving orders to make some changes to a project without even a hello. Two of her coworkers greeted her “Good Morning” with a point to their earphones.Someone even gave her outfit for the day a scowling once-over. She knew it was going to be a rough day.

Frustrated Woman photo by John De BoerAnd it was. Bickering started with the person in the next cubicle – via email.  Someone decided they liked the looks of her sandwich, and it disappeared from the fridge. Then the cherry-on-top of this soul-sucking day was in a department meeting, when blame for a failed project (disguised as accountability) started getting tossed around the table like a hot potato.

Sigh.

So how does Sarah, this enlightened fictional woman, deal with this day?  How does she not absorb all of the swirling negativity, the anger, the tossed about attempts to create shame?

When the world is swirling around you in a negative way, it’s hard not to absorb it.  But you can, with one simple reminder.

It’s not about you.

None of these events need to be taken personally.  In this scenario above, none of these people are even thinking about Sarah, and in your life, they typically aren’t thinking of you either.  These people are thinking about themselves.

Lost in thought photo by Martin WallsPeople are scowling because of their own internal dialogue, their own feelings of low self-esteem, of dissatisfaction, of disappointment.  People disengage with the humans around them because of a drive for task achievement. People hurl blame out of their own fear of rejection, of conflict, or of insecurity.

It’s about them – the things they are going through, the experiences they are living and have lived.  It’s about how they feel about themselves at this very minute.  It’s about how their mother spoke to them last night on the phone.  It’s about how they messed up at home and fought with the kids. It’s about how they don’t feel peaceful, joyful, or filled with love.

It’s about their tough day, and it doesn’t have to be yours.

So how does Sarah make it through the day?

Awareness. She lets it all go.  She sees each person as trying to deal with their own path in this life, and she knows that it doesn’t have to color hers.  She takes a deep breath, exhales the negativity, imagines a bubble of light surrounding her, and she treats herself to a special lunch. She makes it through her day at work, and then surrounds herself with positivity – friends, family, online support, books, shows… connection – any chance she gets.

All the while remembering it’s about them. It’s not personal. It could be directed at anyone (it often is), and it says nothing about Sarah’s like-ability, her capabilities, or her worth.  She let’s them own their own behaviors; she lets them be responsible for their own way.

And that night in her prayers, she asks the Creator for these cranky, scared, insecure, imperfect people to be blessed as they each travel their own, very difficult, roads.

And she asks for a new chance to shine light tomorrow.

at sunset photo by sanja gjenero

2 thoughts on “It’s Not Personal”

  1. Many years ago at my first real job as a young woman, I had a boss who always seemed to have a scrunched up look on his face whenever I greeted him in the morning. I began to think he didn’t like me and felt really bad. It started to affect my work. I told a friend about it and she said “Maybe he’s trying to hold back a fart!” From then on, it was all I could do to keep from laughing every time I smiled hello at him. What used to send me spiraling into self-doubt, instead got my day off to a happy start. It’s all about perspective.

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