Ep 40: Don’t make it personal


Do you find yourself thinking you are the reason for everyone’s actions? Personalization is an easy thinking error to slip into. We don’t need any help to focus on ourselves and make it personal.

But when you do that first, instead of considering other reasons for how people behave, you might need to make things a little less about you.

In today’s episode we take a closer look at personalization.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 40: Don't make it personal - hand holding a clear globe with a picture of the skyline in the background

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

All this week we’ve been looking at thinking errors that keep us feeling stressed and wrung out.

If you missed any episodes, you can find them on my website at LoriMiller.me.

Like Pokémon, you gotta catch ‘em all. 😆

Today we’re examining personalization and labeling.

Except that when I started writing, personalization kind of took on a life of its own. So we’ll look at labeling tomorrow.

Sorry if you already had your VCR set for that one.

Personalization might be easy to guess.

When you think an event or someone’s response is just a personal reaction to you, you might struggle with this cognitive distortion.

Are people always imploring you not to take things so personally?

Then listen up.

Say for example, you and a friend make plans to go to the beach. At the last minute, she calls to tell you she has to cancel because her kid got the flu.

Immediately you think she’s just ditching you because it was so last minute and her kid seemed fine yesterday at the bus stop.

If you had stopped to consider other scenarios, you might have discovered a few alternate possibilities.

  • She doesn’t want you to get sick so she’s staying home to make sure you stay healthy. That’s a good friend all day long.
  • Her kid was fine yesterday but woke up this morning with a sore throat that became a full-fledged fever by lunch. That’s how the flu works sometimes.
  • She really wants to go but her mother isn’t able to come over and be at the house while the kid sleeps it off.
  • She’s ditching you because you always take things so personally. Your first reaction is always a possibility but you don’t have to go there first.

When you operate in this mindset, you automatically short change yourself.

Personalization places you at the center of everyone’s world. 🌍

If you’re at the center of everyone’s world, then you’re responsible for their happiness.

So you get to blame yourself when things you don’t even own go wrong.

You sure you want to go there?

Take your micromanaging boss, for example.

  • How many times have you complained about your boss’ complete lack of trust in you?
  • Obviously she doesn’t think you can do the job or she wouldn’t be right over your shoulder literally all the time, right?

If you look at micromanaging more closely, though, you won’t see a lack of trust or villainous thoughts about your skill set.

What you’ll see is fear and anxiety. And lots of it.

Go inside her head for a minute.

  • What if this expensive project falls apart and they hold me responsible?
  • I’m on the hook for this event to go well or I’m probably not working here anymore.
  • No one is giving me clear direction for me and my team, so I don’t know what I don’t know. What if I’m wrong?

With all that swimming around in her head, do you think it would be easy to not triple check everything your team is doing to make sure you guys pull it off? Her job may depend on it.

Do any of these thoughts have anything to do with you personally?

Is she even thinking about you? Nope.

Like all of us, she’s focused on herself.

Obviously micromanaging is not the answer to help calm her anxiety.

She needs to do her own work to manage her anxiety in a way that allows everyone to have autonomy and feel successful.

But if you look closely at her thoughts, you may see she’s dealing with a couple of thinking errors of her own.

Hit me up on Facebook or LinkedIn if you think you know what they are.

Personalization gets you so focused on how others’ behaviors are affecting you that you fail to see how much they may be carrying.

Opening yourself up to other possibilities for why people do things helps you give some grace to yourself and others, too.

Like all of these thinking errors, personalization puts you in a pretty extreme place.

Take yourself out of the equation a bit and look for all the possibilities.

If you’re still listening, wow, thank you! I’ll see you tomorrow for labeling!

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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