“The truth is that the way other people see us isn’t about us—it’s about them and their own struggles, insecurities, and limitations. You don’t have to allow their judgment to become your truth”Daniell Koepke
When we take comments personally, the hurt we feel can trigger defensiveness, withdrawal, resentment, disappointment all feeding the deep hurts that we hold onto over time, taking a toll on our relationship and our emotional well-being. This only serves to escalate arguments, disagreements, criticisms and contempt typically from both sides. This behaviour only results in even more disconnection, discord, and deep unhappiness in the relationship.
To turn this around the place to start, is to look within yourself. When you can hold the clear knowledge of your own truth in your awareness, you will be able to see the authenticity of who you are and begin separating other people’s confused thoughts and judgements as a projection of their own inner world.
We all have a unique lens through which we view the world, our upbringing, parental and environmental influences, our experiences from past relationships, trauma and disappointments all create our map of the world. Our early years from the moment we are born form our beliefs especially when it comes to what we believe about ourselves.
So, it is our own thinking that is the biggest culprit of taking things personally. This is great news because it means we can shift our thinking to minimize the pain of hurt feelings.
Our brain has an inbuilt survival mechanism and is wired by default to see and hear things negatively. If you can imagine a soldier living in part of your brain called the Amygdala which is our emotional center, standing on guard, always on alert for perceived threats ready to take flight or fight in response to these threats. This part of our brain has an unconscious negative bias and it focuses on flaws, judgements, criticisms, what’s wrong, or missing. Over time our brain actually tags memories with associated emotions, and it does this because memories with emotions attached are more powerful at keeping us alive.
That soldier when under threat goes into the memory file, and communicates to the nervous system red alert, this has happened before and it reacts the same way every time and the more it does it the more it becomes sensitive and triggered over time.
It is our perception and self-awareness that will allow these memories, emotions and behaviours to keep us either surviving or thriving. We can rewire and challenge that little soldier. Just because your brain thinks what it thinks, it doesn’t mean it’s true!!
One step to take is to press pause, take a moment to really be curious about your thinking—both yours and your partner’s. When you step back and notice what your negatively biased brain is interpreting with the thing your partner or even you yourself said or did, you might actually see beyond the words and actions and get closer to the truth.
Unloading on you with their negative bias is really a way they are trying to reduce their own inner turmoil and it typically has nothing to do with you.
They lash out from their own stored memories, emotions and that place of pain. Now I’m not saying this gives them permission to behave in hurtful ways but when you start to look from a different perspective you will begin to see that it means nothing about you. You can discern whether you should or shouldn’t tolerate this behaviour and set boundaries and decide whether to stay with someone who is simply not good for you and end the relationship. You will also be able to understand if you are taking things personally from your own map of the world and you do not need to.
If you can remember this truth you may start to feel compassion for your partner instead of deep hurt and you give yourself the opportunity to do something different and create more caring dialogue and interactions with empathy. You may begin to see that judgements and criticisms directed at you are not your responsibility to take on and that emotion e.g fear/anger/sadness within your partner has yet to be healed and resolved.
When you become more aware of what is really going on it makes it easier to come back to a loving place for yourself first and foremost and then for your significant other and recognise this emotion/behaviour is a reflection of how they feel about themself. Understanding what makes other people behave the way they do can help minimize the impact their actions have on you. To help you to be more understanding you can ask yourself – “What is the most loving way to see this? What belief systems are being triggered? What might love’s wisdom want me to know right now?
Understanding how your partner feels and working through ways to support them while remaining empathetic and knowing the goodness within yourself, can make your relationship stronger than ever.
I hope in reading and doing this practice, it can start to transform your relationship, improving the way you understand and connect with each other, growing the relationship with the love that is already there.
Love and Light