Everything is personal.
I was talking with a good friend this week. We talk frequently and are pretty comfortable disagreeing, pushing back and questioning each other. Sometimes I disagree with her and realize it is because what she said triggered something in me, and we need to explore it together.
In this particular discussion, she mentioned someone saying, "Don't take it personally." I could feel my insides reacting. She had hit on an expression that bothered me. I don't like it when someone says, "Don't take it personally" or "It's not personal." I can feel myself wanting to challenge the statement.
Of course, it is! Everything is personal. I'm a person. Everything you say to me is personal. I can't separate myself from something that I am experiencing.
When I used to teach managers how to give feedback, I would always be clear that they needed to provide objective feedback based on observable behaviours. Be clear about what you observe, and don't get into judgements and feelings. The unintended message was: Don't make it personal.
And when it came to receiving feedback, I would hand out a Q-Tip as a visual reminder to Quit Taking It Personally. Gah. If only life was that simple. I would never do that now. There is only one way to take your experience, and that is personally!
People-pleasers may have an advantage here because we know and fear upsetting people. We know people take things personally. It's what keeps us from saying what we want to say or locked into doing things we don't want to do. We are afraid to disappoint people or hurt their feelings. We know that each person is a complex system drawing on feelings, thoughts,
personality, behaviour, beliefs and values, to name a few influencing factors in our experiences!
Remember everything is personal when you need to put up a boundary or do something that will impact someone else. You need to do what is right for you and let other people deal with how it affects them. It's not your responsibility. You can do it most kindly or lovingly possible but remember - everything is personal.
Keep the Q-Tips in the bathroom.