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Illustration: Eleni Kastrinoyannis

Do you always take things personally? Learn how to change behavior and protect your mental health.

“I don’t take anything personally,” a friend once told me, and I admired her for this ability, because unlike her, I take everything personally.

Sometimes this reaction is normal and maybe necessary. If, however, you often feel upset or offended by other people’s comments, or tend to assume that others are trying to hurt you , then you are probably taking things more personally than you should, and this is having an impact on your mental health. So it’s important to learn to recognize when your reaction to a comment or action is overreacting.

Why do you take things personally?

As a social being, it is natural to seek the respect of the members of the group you belong to and to care about what others think of you . But when this worry reaches the extremes, it can hinder your progress and affect you psychologically , explains the American clinical psychologist Sabrina Romanoff on the website verywellmind.

What could be the reasons why you take things personally:

Where can this tendency of yours come from? The expert gives the answer again:

  • You talk down to yourself. In other words, you’re constantly telling yourself that he’s not worth it , that he’s not good enough, that it’s always his fault. So it’s easy for you to believe that everything negative is about you.
  • Lack of emotional support from parents during childhood can lead you to believe that you deserve to be teased and humiliated.
  • If you suffer from social anxiety , then you constantly worry about how others will judge you.
  • Perfectionists also struggle when others talk about their flaws, as they have unrealistic standards of how they should be .
  • When you’re tired, stressed, and generally in a bad mood , you’re more likely to misinterpret someone’s comments.
  • Highly Sensitive Persons have an increased physical and emotional sensitivity to their environment, so they are also more sensitive to negative stimuli. So they can take things very personally.


you take things personally

Illustration: Eleni Kastrinoyannis


How do you know your reaction is out of proportion?

If you want to manage this situation, you first need to understand when his reaction is a little too much. The expert mentions some of the signs to keep in mind:

  • You base your happiness on the approval of others.
  • You apologize for no reason and always want to please others .
  • You don’t set boundaries or keep the boundaries you set.
  • You are afraid to say “no” .
  • You believe all the harsh comments about yourself and take them to heart.
  • You see a mistake in behavior as a character flaw.
  • You become defensive or get angry easily .
  • You become obsessed with recent conversations  to the point where it interferes with your daily life. For some, this repetition enables them to imagine giving a different answer. For others, rumination reminds them of their own weakness.

The other side of the coin

Taking things personally has some positive aspects too. First, it becomes clear to your own people what is hurting you . Thus, they can adjust their behavior accordingly.

Also, you need to experience sad feelings as a human being from time to time because, firstly, they teach you to be humble and, secondly, they teach you to overcome difficulties , making you more resilient in the future.


How do you stop taking things personally?

There are no magic solutions, our mental health needs work. Practice makes perfect, then, and the first step you will need to take is to cultivate your emotional resilience . It is also good not to rush to conclusions , because it is possible that you have perceived a situation incorrectly . So don’t be shy to ask for clarification . Prefer to write down your thoughts so that you have time to process and evaluate them. Mindfulness practices, as well as positive affirmations, can help you focus on the present and control stress. If that doesn’t work, Romanoff says you can reach out to a mental health professional.

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