Mondays with Mac: It's not about you!

Mondays with Mac: It's not about you!

Why do some people act the way that they do? What I mean is that, sometimes when we find someone in the wrong, it's easy to think of it as all their fault. However, it could have been something outside of their control that made them act a certain way. Therefore, when someone offends us, it's good to take a step back to think and...breathe

That's what this story is all about...and how it relates to your happiness:

One of the most common ways we get in the way of our own happiness is by taking things personally when they're not personal at all.

So many people seem to be sensitive creatures—taking affront at being "disrespected," jumping to conclusions that someone else is being "rude," and quick to outrage over any perceived slight.

Here's a common example: You call a friend on the phone but he's not there, so you leave a voicemail message Hours roll by and your friend doesn't call you back Th e day ends and still no call Where does your mind go? If you're like most people, you wonder, "Why hasn't he called me back?"

Another day goes by and still no call Now you're worried, "What's wrong? Why hasn't he returned my call? I wonder if something happened to him?" A week goes by and still no call Now you're furious "What a jerk! The least he could do is return my call!"

The conversation in your head may be slightly diff erent, depending on who you're waiting to hear from—but it's always negative When someone doesn't call you back, you think something negative about yourself ("He must be mad at me," or "He doesn't like me ") or you think something negative about the other person ("He's rude," or "He's a jerk," or worse.) Either way, you let your happiness be diminished by your interpretation of someone else's behavior.

The truth is, you have no idea why your friend hasn't called! He could be out of town; he might be ill or injured; he could be up to his ears in work; he might be on a tight deadline with no time to call; perhaps his voicemail isn't working and he never got your message; or maybe he simply forgot to call. There are a hundred possible reasons why he didn't call—reasons that have nothing to do with you!

Here's a simple, effective happiness tip: Don't take things personally. Don't speculate on why people do things until you have actual facts; don't attach meanings to events until you know the whole story; don't make up stories in lieu of real information.

All that happened is your friend didn't promptly return your call. That's all.

You can free yourself from hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and crossed communications by simply noticing what happened (or didn't happen)—but NOT attaching any meaning to it. You'll find freedom and happiness that way.
May 16, 2011
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