The Thoughts in My Head #17 painting: Lisa Levy

As one of the self-proclaimed “Most Insecure People on the Planet,” my evaluation of whether to take things personally or not is something I have struggled with all of my life. It has led to a lot of inappropriate messaging to people I hardly know asking: “Are you mad at me?” It’s also probably led to my being “let go” from several jobs for running into my boss’ office and explaining my behavior they were never even thinking about.

Yes, taking things personally is usually a result of insecurity and self-involvement, (thinking everyone is focused on you), but can certainly be managed. I’m just saying, the first step to manage the behavior is identifying it. To understand that it’s not all about you, I’m giving you a guide to stuff that many take personally; lighten up!

#1 Not hearing back from someone, no matter what the form of contact, text, e-mail, phone, etc.)

This is probably the most common thing people take personally. No, its not something you did/wore/said/etc! It’s something going on with them that likely has nothing to do with you. Rule of thumb—two contact attempts and no reply—shut up, forget it and get back to your life!

 #2 You didn’t really do anything and they got mad at you.

Agreed, that’s annoying, but give that person a break. Some people that we have to deal with regularly are just plain ol’ cranky. All you can really do is feel sorry for how unhappy they must be. However, when my partner, who I cannot write off so easily, is being a grouch, I usually come to a realization that some circumstance for him is sucky right now and let it pass without pointing out that he’s currently unpleasant. It is a self-protective move that will make his angries go away quicker.

 #3 The disappearing and reappearing friend.

Do you ever get close to someone but they just disappear and reappear without any explanation? They could be CIA double agent or just someone who needs to retreat. Unlike me, I’m happy to examine every detail of my existence in conversations with people, a lot of humans prefer to retreat to their cave until the weather improves. This type of person needs and deserves their space. Back off, they’ll return when they’re ready! Leave it alone, that’s their business.

#4 The disappearing date.

Have you been dating/sleeping with someone and they fall off the planet? No, it’s not because the last time you hung out you [insert your own brand of neurotic obsession here]. Who the hell knows what’s going on in someone’s life? If they don’t let you in on why they disappeared, they suck at communicating, that is all. Cowards I say! One time this happened to me and I found out much, much later, the dude’s father had died unexpectedly.

#5 Personal criticism is often NOT personal.

If you know the person well enough, whatever they’re criticizing you about is often more revealing about the criticizer. Like the time my body-image aunt yelled out how much weight I’d gained at 140lb. in front of my new boyfriend. It still feels horrible when I think about it, but I’m sure everyone just thought my aunt was crazy and I looked fine which was the truth.

#6 Getting fired when you were doing your best.

Sometimes we f*#k off and we get fired – that’s cool because you have to get another job more suited to you anyway. But what if you thought you were good at what you were doing and were also working hard? That sucks! Don’t get caught up in trying to even guess what happened. A lot of shit happens that we have no idea about and trying to figure that out will keep your ego down and in the way of getting a new job where you’ll be appreciated.

#7 People who are consistently late.

Everyone deserves a benefit of the doubt, and a Get Out of Jail Free card on being late. But if it happens a lot, you can bet that person is screwing up their life in a lot of circumstances, except their attending raves. If they’re not on time, and you’re fed up, leave without them.

#8 Someone who doesn’t compliment you when you feel that they should have.

Is it me, or do other people wind up with these same type of withholding people in their lives. Some people feel vulnerable by giving out compliments, particularly if they’re feeling competitive or not in control with you. It’s a shame because complimenting is a great way to get close to others. Don’t look to these people or anyone really for approval. You know what you’ve done/accomplished/rocked out on. Screw them!

#9 Someone is trash talking about you.

I’m so sorry about this-it’s the worst! Likely it started with someone who’s buttons you unwittingly push. You probably remind them of their best friend in high school who refused to bring them to parties or some bullshit like that. What I’m saying is that person’s negativity is based on their own mishegas. Forget it. You’re probably disappointed in them and it’s horrible, but you would have found out sooner or later.

#10 No sex or less than stellar sex.

If you feel bad about a sexual experience or the lack of one you expected, well, you need to learn that people  are just plain unpredictable. Let it go unless you find that you need to have a full on discussion about bigger picture sexual needs.  Hint: Don’t have that discussion during sex, wait till you’re in neutral territory.

WARNING: This list is not to excuse your own douchey behavior. Only use it when your best intentions find you in a confusing place. Also the more you can develop a clearer picture of your own needs and boundaries, the less other people behavior will have an influence on you.

If you would like to learn how to manage not taking things personally, there’s more information here. And if you like to communicate with me about this or anything, I’m here for you. Please email me at