If you cross this one street in our neighborhood it suddenly gets pretty fancy, going from $80K-100K houses to $500K-800K homes. Our side of the neighborhood is becoming more and more diverse, I figure one day they will build a wall. There goes all the good trick-or-treating.
Over on the nicer side, there is this one double-lot multi-million dollar monstrosity that someone built. It looks like a Miami drug dealer’s house in the middle of all these 1950’s and 60’s single story houses. The person who built it got thrown in jail before they finished it.
That story has nothing to do with anything.
Anyway, our State Representative lives over on that nice side of the street, right on one of the main roads that take you out of the neighborhood. As soon as he was elected they installed these obnoxious speed humps. 4 sets of them. I guess to slow down all the traffic that would be driving by to snap pictures of a political celebrity? To make assassination attempts more difficult? Because he used his newfound political power to get them installed because he loves his kids? I’m not sure.
Regardless of why, I try to take these speed humps personally on a daily basis because they make me slow down and they aren’t good for my truck. I am often absolutely sure they were installed against me. I actually go one street further down to leave now, which is probably what they wanted anyway.
Not me specifically, but to reduce traffic in general. I actually drive pretty slowly these days.
The thing is, these speed humps have absolutely nothing to do with me. They aren’t personal in any way. I want them to be, because they affect my day, but they aren’t.
If we pay attention very few things, if any at all, are actually personal.
I get a lot of pushback on this idea.
It’s not even mine either, this has been explored since people were exploring ideas that made other people uncomfortable. Blame them.
Honestly though, if we really think about it, the things people say and do to us usually have nothing to do with us.
Someone says you are ugly. Does this mean you are ugly, or they simply perceive you as such? Their perspective tells you nothing about yourself objectively.
A person has a rough day and calls you a jerkoff. What does this tell you about you? What does it actually have to do with you?
I get that it is hard not to take things personally. We are trained and socialized to think that we share some responsibility for what goes on in other people’s heads. That their mental activity actually has something to do with us.
It is even harder not to take things personally with people we have a significant investment in.
“I told you not to do that!”
“I raised you better than this!”
“I thought we had talked about this!”
How are another person’s decisions personal to us? I get that sometimes the consequences might blow our direction or they may affect our lives, but they did not make these decisions because of us, they made them because of themselves.
Do you take the weather personally?
The decisions of people you don’t know?
What is the line for what you take personally?
What would change in your life if you refused to take responsibility for someone else’s thoughts and emotions?
There is freedom in realizing that very few things actually have anything to do with us.
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I write, podcast and make videos about living in freedom through mindfulness, intentionality, compassion, and equanimity.
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