Mantra 3: It’s not personal.

It’s not personal. Heard it? Said it? But do you believe it?

This is a more recent mantra. It has really helped me in highly emotive situations and enables me to really listen and not get caught up in the drama of what another is saying or doing.

Have you had someone say something from out of nowhere, in anger or just mean? Have you had someone take over, take credit or take sides? What do you do?

You more often than not think their words or actions are about you and take it personally. Then what? Usually there is drama or fight or flight (and flight can be drama for some). It is hard not to take it personally when it is directed at you. I know from experience but what you do in response can make a difference to your own wellbeing and theirs.

Over the years I have come to realise that what is said or done and how it is delivered is often not about you but about the other person. I wish I had of known this when I first started out teaching as it would have saved many a sleepless night and angst.

When something is said in a way that hurts or pushes your buttons then breath and say “It’s not personal” this will help you to step back and may help you to see what is really going on. This action allows you to hear more than the words. It supports you to be emotionally intelligent.

I often ask myself ‘is it true’ and if it is then I can say so. If it is not, I can then choose an infinite number of ways to address what has been said or done. If I take what has been said personally then I have limited myself and could find myself saying or doing things I regret later. This can create or continue a cycle of behaviour and or thinking that is hard for all involved to break. Not taking it personally gives you a chance to try something different, express yourself differently and break the cycle of behaviour or thinking.

This doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible or shifting the responsibility it just means you can really hear, respond and empathise. What is interesting is that this creates a safe space for you and others. Now whether or not the other person wants this safe space is not up to you. If they don’t then again ‘It’s not personal’.

This take practice.

I can still get caught up in the drama and certain people can push my buttons better than others. If I take it personally, I am kind to myself and know that I have learned more about myself and the other. I am more aware next time but hopefully not too wary.

It doesn’t mean I never complain or rant. I do but then my Mantra: 3 strikes and you’re out rule kicks in (say something 3 times and then either do something about it or let it go).

When I see the words or actions of another as ‘It’s not personal’ the safe space I have created is a boundary. This boundary gives me clarity but can often upset others who are not so clear on their own boundaries. Be prepared to be misunderstood. But because you know it is not personal it won’t keep you awake at night or eat away at you.

You can (and will) reflect on what has been said or done. You can do this from a place of growth and openness rather than fear and a closed mindset. It may still hurt but it won’t last and will hopefully not be held onto.

Often this new mantra can confuse others. Often, they think you do ‘care’ anymore. It is a different way of being and caring. It is open, open to them and possibilities and this will be new. Over the years many have not felt this openness instead they feel it as closed or unresponsive and try other ways to get me to engage in the drama or respond in a way that means they can escalate their words or behaviour. When you don’t, they do not like it. This is where more learning opportunities happen for you and others. It is a different way of caring, a connected and supportive way.

So, if ‘It’s not personal’ then what is it? This is where you can go down a rabbit hole and try and work out what is going on for the other person. And you CAN’T. Trying to work out why someone else said or did something is near impossible and this is where it not being your responsibility does come in. They need to work this out for themselves. Sometimes I add ‘it’s more about them than it is about me’. Sometimes you will never know what it is really about and you will need to be OK with this.

However, if you are in a leadership role you may be need to support another to discover what it is that has caused them to say or do something. This requires skill and emotional intelligence. It is important as a leader that you have support or a mentor yourself.

Is that it? It can be but for many of us we want it not to happen again or don’t want ill feelings. If you can’t leave it then you can follow up and try and unpack it or have a courageous conversation about what was said or done. If you do pick a time and a place that is appropriate for both it may mean making a time with the other person so they are prepared.

But sometimes all you can say and believe at the end of the day is ‘It’s not personal’.

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