When people tell us not to take things personally, it’s always easier said than done. We dole out that same advice with the clarity of having an outside perspective, because things are always easier to recognize when it’s someone else’s life. Rather than trying to incorporate advice that has a hint of blame-placing (in that it implies it’s you who is at fault for being sensitive to someone else), it’s easier to think that whatever you are at the receiving end of is usually not about you.
It’s not about you when someone lashes out, when they criticize, when they overtly compare and make things competitive. They feel inferior to the point where it can’t be contained. They feel like if they don’t make an observation about you to make you feel like less, everyone will see them the way they see themselves. That people will discover that they are falling short. Their self-perception outweighs any logic or reasoning of the situation at hand, and in turn, their manners and social awareness. It’s really not about you.
Sometimes it’s not about you when a person decides to exit or drift away from your life. Sometimes it’s just a matter of the fact that they have outgrown their life as they know it, or outgrown the relationship the two of you created together. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t growing — which the “outgrowing” connotation tends to imply — but rather that you are growing in different directions. You are growing away from each other. Even if it seems personal, like they would rather hurt you and be free than to continue to keep you in their life, it’s not about you. It’s about them and their needs.
It’s not about you when you get rejected, whether it be from a person, a job, or any other situation. It’s not about you in the sense that it is not a reflection of your worth or your goodness. It’s not a reflection of what you have to offer as a whole. As difficult as it can be to accept, it’s just not a right match for you at this time. You are being saved from something not in alignment with who you are, which is much easier to recover from than finding that out once things are farther along than they are now.
This isn’t to say that nothing is ever about you, that you are exempt somehow from the consequences of your actions. But chances are, if you are inclined to blame yourself, you have some capacity to take responsibility when things are your own doing. And when that is the case, as it will be for every human at some point or another, the best thing to do is learn and do your best going forward. Just don’t get into the habit of becoming responsible for everything because sometimes, it’s really not about you.