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A few weeks ago, I had a major realization about the importance of vulnerability and setting boundaries (you can read about it here). I realized that for most of my life, I haven’t been clear on my own boundaries with people, like how I expect to be treated, how I should treat others, what I’m okay and not okay with, what behavior I am willing to accept and forgive, and what behavior I simply can’t. 

I’ve, honestly, never given it much thought before because it seems like a silly thing — we all know our boundaries, right? But do we actually stay true to them? How often do we let other people’s behavior change how we feel about ourselves? How often do we put up with or do things that are actually breaking our own boundaries just to please someone else?

I realized that I did it all the time. In my attempts to please others and fit in, I let people disrespect me and make me do things that I really wasn’t okay with. It could be simple things like answering emails on my free time because I thought it would make me look good, or hanging out with people who I didn’t want to hang out with because I didn’t want to disappoint someone. But what’s most important is that I let people in my life disrespect or hurt me without setting my foot down.

A few weeks ago, that changed. I started reflecting upon my own boundaries and decided that I was going to start respecting them. I decided that I wasn’t going to put up with having people make me feel bad, or even let their actions affect me. I’m not going to change my behavior for someone else and I will not do things that I’m not ok with. If someone crosses my boundaries, I will be honest with them and let them know that their behavior is hurting me. And sometimes, this means letting people go. With this mindset, I’m slowly accepting myself for who I am and I don’t care so much about what other people think of me. And it has made me much more comfortable, calm, and grounded.

When you feel comfortable in yourself you don’t think so much about how you behave or if how you behave is “wrong”. You just do whatever your heart wants and say whatever you feel like (as long as it’s your truth and doesn’t hurt someone). People will notice when you let your real self show, and they will either like it or pull away. You will notice that some relationships will deepen and that some people will simply disappear from your life. 

You might think it’s sad to start with and it will most likely lead you to questioning what you did wrong or make you feel like it’s better to just “blend in” again. It takes guts to be yourself, but remember that how people behave or treat you is only a reflection of their own emotional well-being and sometimes, people just aren’t on the same level. Sometimes, you have to let people go because you’ve outgrown them and sometimes, they have to let you go because they’ve outgrown you. That’s ok. You can’t expect someone to keep hanging out with you if you’re a negative energy in their lives.

No matter if you’re the one setting your foot down or if someone decides they don’t want you in their lives anymore, you shouldn’t take it personally. See it as a lesson in their emotional well-being, or accept that perhaps this person has filled its purpose in your life and that it’s time to move on. Just pay attention to how it makes you feel and try to learn from that. Do you feel abandoned? Do you feel relieved? Do you ask yourself what you could have done differently to make them stay? What makes you feel that way? Your reaction in a situation like that can teach you a lot about yourself. It comes from a place within and it’s always good to find the root cause to your reaction and then work with it.

By noticing my own reactions and emotions in different situations, I’ve learned where my own weaknesses are and what I have to work with in myself. Because you can’t expect someone else to take responsibility for your emotions. You are the only one in charge of your own reactions and how you let other people affect you. You have the freedom to say: I won’t let your behavior make me feel less worthy. I won’t let this change who I am. And that’s why boundaries are so important, because if you’re not respecting your own boundaries, no one else will.

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