Take things personally?
Here’s a quick test. Do you experience some or all of these?
- feel anxious of being blamed
- feel powerless in face of blame
- think that what others think/say/feel/do is more important than what you think/say/feel/do
- assume (without wanting to) that you’re wrong and someone else is right
- worry that other’s words/opinions have negative consequences for you
- take things to heart
Most people do take things personally because of the socialization through the education system. It becomes an obstacle in living at one’s best, solving problems effectively and nurturing healthy relationships.
First, taking things personally assumes that someone is right and the other is wrong. In fact, everyone is right from his/her point of view. The triad reminds us that our thoughts, feelings and behavior are inter-dependent and always create a flow. So if you ever think that you or anyone else is “wrong.” chart out the triad and notice an entire system (of thoughts, feelings and behavior) behind his/her point of view.
As an example: if I think that I’m right and you’re wrong, I stop listening and focus my energy on convincing you that I’m right. Haven’t you been in team meetings or family arguments where everyone is trying to convince the other that they’re right? Little good comes from this behavior because it closes access to listening, learning, creative thinking and collaborating.
As another example: if I think that everyone is right from his/her point of view, I’m open and share my viewpoint without imposing it on anyone and listen without fearing that someone else will impose his/her opinion, either. That helps me take in everyone’s perspective, experience, access to data and helps me bring in many aspects into my decision making. It also nurtures my relationships because I offer respect and others feel heard and appreciated for their perspectives.
Second, taking things personally creates dysfunction:
- When people function, they take responsibly for their triads
- When people over-function, they take responsibility for more than their triads
- When people under-function, they do not take responsibility of their triads
Dysfunction happens when people over- or under-function. It complicates problem solving and limits creativity.
People who over-function subconsciously gravitate toward people who under-function and vice versa! So, if you want to attract people who do take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions, function — take responsibility for your triads and nothing more.
People who take things personally tend to over-function. When people in a team over- and under-function, there are imbalances that create ineffectiveness. When each person on a team functions, everyone can focus on the project’s problem rather than the static noise created by blame and over- or under-functioning.
Third, it drains your energy.
Taking things personally expands energy that acts like a guard of self-protection. When you realize that everyone merely seeks to fill their basic needs, you can see things without taking things personally.
It’s like standing on the Acropolis and looking down at the city, without knowing all the details. It’s looking at which needs are important in a situation, rather than the drama of an emotional reaction or blame.
Taking things transpersonally means understanding that everyone has his/her own triad and through those triads, seek to fill their basic human needs. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? He was a psychologist who wanted to figure out what makes people live at their best. He realized that everyone seeks to fill certain needs that go beyond oxygen, water, food and shelter and those needs are social. Due to culture, personality and situation, we each learn to fill these basic needs in different ways, some functional and some dysfunctional. Since I work with people who have food and shelter, I use this list of basic human needs:
- love, connection
As an example: if I seek top corporate positions in order to feel good about myself (significance), I’ll focus on getting credit, being respected, doing whatever I needed to do to win. If I already feel good about myself (with a full belly), I can take those leadership positions and contribute and grow. If I already feel good about myself, I may not even take top corporate positions becasue of what’s expected of people who take those roles, I may start my own firm.
The ways we fill our needs are as different as each person is unique, yet there are patterns we can see amidst the legacy industrial model. The socialization we’ve received through the education system focuses our attention of “getting” those needs filled from the external world, rather than internal resources such as self-respect, self-trust, self-appreciation, self-empathy and the like.
So, people who taking things transpersonally know that everything each person thinks, feels and does seeks to meet his/her needs in his/her own ways. So, these thoughts, feelings and behavior are focused on the self, even if they seem like they’re attacks on the other person.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say your boss gets really snippy when she’s tired, stressed, overworked, overwhelmed. She sees a mistake and emails the entire team and her boss blaming you. You hadn’t made that mistake, but feel you can’t defend yourself because she doesn’t listen, plus the company culture is to “side with” bosses vs employees.
If you take things personally, you will take on her blame and accept it (plus, feel badly and become angry over time).
If you take things transpersonally, you will know that her reactions seek to fill her needs, even if the ways she does so are unproductive. You’ll search for the needs she’s trying to fill, such as certainty and then, help her fill those needs. You may suggest a course correction or new way of preventing mistakes, yet you won’t take things on yourself as if what she’s saying is true. It’s her truth in the moment, yet if you focus on solving the problem rather than responding to the blame, you feel better, you actually respond (vs react) and you solve the problem at hand. You’re likely to earn more of her gratitude and respect, as well, because she wants a successful project in the end and can appreciate your focus on problem solving.
Here’s are the triads for before and after for this above example:
The next time you notice yourself taking things personally, chart out your triad to increase your awareness about what you’re thinking, feeling and doing. No blame, no judgement.
Then chart out a triad you’d like to have and think about how to get there using a transpersonal perspective.
[Image from Freepik]