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Mondays with Mac: It’s not about you!

by Mac Anderson on May 16, 2011

Today's story is from The Road to Happiness

Today's story is from The Road to Happiness

Why do some people act the way that they do? What I mean is that, sometimes when we find someone in the wrong, it’s easy to think of it as all their fault. However, it could have been something outside of their control that made them act a certain way. Therefore, when someone offends us, it’s good to take a step back to think and…breathe.

That’s what this story is all about…and how it relates to your happiness:

One of the most common ways we get in the way of our own happiness is by taking things personally when they’re not personal at all.

So many people seem to be sensitive creatures—taking affront at being “disrespected,” jumping to conclusions that someone else is being “rude,” and quick to outrage over any perceived slight.

Here’s a common example: You call a friend on the phone but he’s not there, so you leave a voicemail message Hours roll by and your friend doesn’t call you back Th e day ends and still no call Where does your mind go? If you’re like most people, you wonder, “Why hasn’t he called me back?”

Another day goes by and still no call Now you’re worried, “What’s wrong? Why hasn’t he returned my call? I wonder if something happened to him?” A week goes by and still no call Now you’re furious “What a jerk! The least he could do is return my call!”

The conversation in your head may be slightly diff erent, depending on who you’re waiting to hear from—but it’s always negative When someone doesn’t call you back, you think something negative about yourself (“He must be mad at me,” or “He doesn’t like me ”) or you think something negative about the other person (“He’s rude,” or “He’s a jerk,” or worse.) Either way, you let your happiness be diminished by your interpretation of someone else’s behavior.

The truth is, you have no idea why your friend hasn’t called! He could be out of town; he might be ill or injured; he could be up to his ears in work; he might be on a tight deadline with no time to call; perhaps his voicemail isn’t working and he never got your message; or maybe he simply forgot to call. There are a hundred possible reasons why he didn’t call—reasons that have nothing to do with you!

Here’s a simple, effective happiness tip: Don’t take things personally. Don’t speculate on why people do things until you have actual facts; don’t attach meanings to events until you know the whole story; don’t make up stories in lieu of real information.

All that happened is your friend didn’t promptly return your call. That’s all.

You can free yourself from hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and crossed communications by simply noticing what happened (or didn’t happen)—but NOT attaching any meaning to it. You’ll find freedom and happiness that way.


marianne sawicki May 17, 2011 at 7:19 am

I cannot thank you enough……I stumbled on this website via God
and love it…..Thank you God….

Chris Nwaiwu May 17, 2011 at 7:23 am

A good one Mac.

Judith W May 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

Great advice Mac … Thanks!

Frank G May 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

Excellent Mac. Thanks. Recently I have been trying to keep reminding myself to be more empathetic. Your words are the icing on the cake.

MD May 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

No one can ‘make’ you feel anything. No matter what a person says or does; you can choose how to react. You have the power within you to choose how to react and, how to feel.

Jill clark May 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm

A much needed reminder. Thank you :) )

Csilla May 17, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Looking at it another way – it is ALWAYS about me because I have the choice to interpret it as I will. And here is where my power comes in because I can choose to make certain that it is NOT about me. But the choice is always for me to make – wow now that is powerful stuff.

Sylva Emoekpere May 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Mac, this piece is really for me. Thanks a lot.

Sylva Emoekpere May 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Mac, this piece is really for me. Thanks a lot. I have felt hurt by taking things personally in the past. Your comments have opened me up fir a life of realism. Again thanks.

OGO May 25, 2011 at 9:17 pm

This call for true tansparency & sincerity of mind in dealing with issues. Very helpful. God bless.

Guy Farmer May 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm

What a great concept: Dealing with our own stuff first before we react to what others say or do. I’ve found that it’s really helpful to become happy with ourselves first so we invite positive interactions and live happier lives.

Rex K. Loy June 5, 2011 at 8:46 am

My amazing ability to “take things personally” nearly destroyed me several years back. Two of my best friends died of cancer, another in a car accident, still another from some sort of muscle disorder. Needless to say, I took their deaths rather hard. In fact, I took their deaths personally! I became cold and bitter. I refused to let others become close to me for fear that they too might die. The bottom line is that I convinced myself that their deaths were somehow, someway, perpetrated on me. I took their deaths personally…like it was something that they had done to me. Such perverted thinking can destroy a person!

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