There are many reasons why we all become upset or brought down by something now and again. Our sadness could be triggered by a traumatic event, a case of gross injustice or the ugly side of human nature lashing out in our direction. But so rarely, whilst we take some time out to wallow in self-pity, to overthink and to scrutinize every hardship that becomes us, do we ever grant ourselves the relief of thinking ‘Maybe it’s not about you’.
Perhaps our ego has taken a hit from an obnoxious comment, or we failed to attain something we dedicated so much time and effort in pursuing. In these cases, it can be so easy to put ourselves into a ‘victim’ mentality. Ironically, too many days spent mistakenly feeling like a victim is what will likely turn you into one for the rest of your life. Whilst many musicians and poets make a killing from their twisted and tormented personas, in reality, people don’t have time for those that can’t put on a brave face now and again.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you’re not allowed to be upset and should act like either an emotionless robot or deliriously happy, but that the burden of being loyal towards someone who is a constant source of negativity is too much for the average person to handle and your relationships are likely to suffer. Whilst you may find friendships come easier with those who also feel a great injustice is upon them, these kind of friendships are actually counterproductive as they enable your feelings of victimisation and are not to be confused with a support network.
‘It’s not about you’ is a phrase that may not pop into your mind without some practise, but it can be one of your greatest weapons towards a healthier mentality. To understand why an action that has directly caused you harm may not be personal, you first need to understand a little about human nature. In one of his less perverse and more widely-accepted theories, Freud talks about ‘projection’ as a means of preserving of our ego and explains that we pin our insecurities onto others. To give a common example, everyone has probably had a harsh comment about their appearance at some point and the person responsible probably has an unhealthy obsession with body image. Hence, it’s not about you.
Another common occurrence that’s far too easy to take personally, is struggling within the job market. You may have worked tirelessly putting together that amazing resumé and sparkled throughout the interview to be landed with a rejection and come to the harmful conclusion that yet another interviewer had it in for you. Instead of assuming ulterior motives or pettiness on behalf of the employer, this should be an opportunity to further improve yourself or work on your strategy, so that you’ll nail it next time.
When a close friend is a source of grief for you, it can be hard to see that it’s not about you. The truth is, sometimes we isolate or verbally lash out at those who are closest to us for the strangest of reasons – because we care a lot about them or have placed strong ideals upon them and become disappointed when these are not fulfilled. However, you are not responsible for the ideals that somebody else places upon you. It’s not about you.
Worse still, a friend may betray you. They’ll do that thing you asked them not to. They’ll break the ‘code’. They’ll go for that person that is supposed to be ‘off the menu’, because the pursuit of love is higher in their priorities than your feelings. Even this, when it comes down to it, has nothing to do with you. Sure, they wont be getting a Friend Of The Year award, but it’s not a reflection of your importance. Just because you’re not another persons top priority (and in most cases, you never will be), it doesn’t mean you’re not valuable or worthy of more loyal friends.
The mantra of ‘it’s not about you’ is not to disregard all personal responsibility in life, it’s about taking those feelings of being wrongly done by and not allowing them to crush your self-esteem. Harsh words are essentially the equivalent of somebody shouting their insecurities into the void, but you just happen to be present. And of course, when it comes to actions, it is human nature to be just plain selfish.
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