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Do Not Take Things Personally

Escape the trap of hurt feelings

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: It’s easy to take things personally when someone insults you, ignores you, is rude or treats you poorly in some other way. This study provides practical tools to avoid taking things personally or giving in to self-pity.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you … (Hebrews 12:5)

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you … (Mathew 5:44)

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you … (Luke 6:28)

Taking things personally can lead to anger or depression

It’s easy to take things personally. In fact, that’s something I have done many times over the years, sometimes sinking into anger, sometimes feeling sorry for myself.

That’s not how God wants us to respond to mistreatment, or what we think is mistreatment. Instead, we are challenged to respond with love.

[Love] is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:15)

Although sometimes it’s still a struggle, I have learned many strategies that help me to not take things personally.

The following suggestions can help you not take things personally—even if someone means for you to take them personally.

Related: Bible studies on depression

Steps to avoid taking things personally

If someone says or does something that hurts your feelings:

Consider asking the other person if you have done something that hurt or offended him or her.

Concentrate on loving the other person. This focus helps you get away from being self-centered or self-conscious.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

Realize the other person’s reaction may reflect pressure in his or her life.

Realize the other person’s reaction may reflect tiredness or exhaustion.

Realize the other person’s reaction may be due to him or her concentrating on issues, problems, or plans.

Realize the other person’s reaction may reflect personality problems. You can lovingly say to yourself, “That’s his (or her) problem.”

Realize that you may not see things clearly or may misinterpret something.

Realize that you may have set yourself up to be hurt.

Realize that you may be too sensitive, or that your expectations may be unreasonable.

Related: Bible studies on anger, grumpiness, and irritation

Realize the other person may like you, but not desire an intimate closeness. Some people may have so many close friends that they can’t develop the intimate relationship you would like.

Realize that there are cliques or in-groups that will not accept you because of your social status, clothes, finances or other superficial reasons. This is a sign of their immaturity. Do not take it personally. (Note: You may assume too much. Not all rich people are snobs.)

Realize the other person’s reaction may reflect difficulties or tragedies he or she is facing.

Realize that you may have done or said something to cause the person to react the way he or she did.

Realize that you cannot read other people’s minds.

Realize that the nature of friendships may change over time. Interests and needs change, and sometimes friendships change accordingly. For example, when a person has a child, it is common to develop more friendships with others who have children.

Realize that some people, even Christians, won’t like you, or that there may be personality conflicts. Still be polite and love them, but do not feel an obligation to win them over.

Realize that everybody is imperfect. If someone is inconsiderate, rude, or insensitive, you can lovingly say to yourself, “That’s his (or her) problem.” There is no need to take it personally, even if it is meant to be taken personally.

Turn to God for affirmation. This experience can help you grow in his Spirit and become more dependent on his love and approval.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners … (Isaiah 61:1)

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:26)

Related: Bible studies on Christianity and knowing God’s love for you

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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