Day 513: It’s nothing personal

When a possible title for a post occurs to me, I often check my old posts, to see if I’ve used it before. For example, I just searched old titles for the words

  • personalize (0 posts)
  • personalization (0 posts)
  • personal (many posts)

Why do I check old posts?

It’s nothing personal.  I just check old posts as

  • a way to avoid being too repetitive and
  • an early step in the creative process, for me.

Wait!  I guess it IS personal, but it has everything to do with me, not you.

And that leads me to the cognitive distortion of ….

You see yourself as the cause of some negative event for which you are not primarily responsible, and you conclude that what happened was your fault or reflects your inadequacy. Personalization distorts other people’s reactions into a direct, personal response to you. For example, if somebody seems upset, you immediately assume it was because of something you said or did.

When we personalize, a good antidote is this thought:

Most likely, this has to do with the other person, and not so much with me.

Or, we can get radical and try this thought:

It’s not personal

no matter what the situation, and see if that helps.

I wonder why human beings personalize, so automatically?  We must think it helps us, in some way. Perhaps we believe that personalization helps make us:

  • successful,
  • important,
  • unique,
  • safe, or
  • something else we want, hope for, or need.

We must think personalization helps, because — as I witness in others and in myself — it’s a very difficult habit to break.

Am I personalizing now?

I don’t know if I AM personalizing, in this post, people. However,  I’ve already personalized, in the short time I’ve been awake this morning, several times, regarding:

  • my boyfriend, Michael, getting out of bed and going downstairs,
  • a small ant crawling across my laptop screen, and
  • some emails I received.

In each case, it wasn’t personal. Even though I raised the question:

Did I do something wrong?

…. the answer, for all of the above, was:

It’s not your fault.

By the way, in a therapy group I facilitated yesterday at work (where we were discussing the feeling of shame), one of the members wanted to remember to think or say

It’s not my fault

as often as possible.

Speaking of emails I received this morning (and I was, a few paragraphs back), I got mad at a few of them, which had these lines:

  1. We picked these just for you.
  2. Can we talk?
  3. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Why did I get mad?  Because it was nothing personal (but it pretended to be).

I interrupt this post to bring you a conversation I just had with my 16-year-old son, Aaron, preparing to leave for school:

Aaron: Look.  It’s 7:11.

Ann: Yes.

Aaron: (a significant look and laugh)

Ann: Sometimes I look at the clock and notice certain times, and think they’re significant.  Like ‘it’s 11:11, again!’

Aaron: Yes. You do that.

Ann:  Me?

Aaron: People.

I guess it was nothing personal, again.

Personally (as my regular readers know), I like to include photos in these posts that have some personal significance to me (whether or not I personally took the photo).

Ready for today’s photo?

ImagePersonally, I believe that photo is unique. I can also tell you that photo was up-to-the-minute and not posed. Whether it was also successful, important, safe, or something we want, hope for, or need …. ?

I’ll leave that up to you.

Thanks to everyone who sent me an email this morning (whether or not it was personal), to people who personalize, to everyone who’s working on reducing unhelpful thoughts,  and a personal thanks to you — of course! — for visiting today.


Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Day 513: It’s nothing personal

  1. This post is written about such an important theme, and it also gives some info i am glad to have; you r running groups again! I am both personally and professionally glad to hear that!
    In my experience, both personally and professionally, i have made some observations about personalization: 1, that, even if it is a negative wish, there is often a wish, or a longing, to be considered 2, we are likely coming from a younger self- from a time when, for better or for worse, developmentally, we HAD to be the center of our own world- to grow, to develop and to survive, maybe hopefully, to thrive. 3 personalizing may be connected in a very important way, to developing and the capacity to empathize .
    Love you, Ann

    • Oh- and it us interesting that “personalizing” can be a powerful trigger for feeling shame..

    • Love you, too, Carol. And thanks for this important comment which I, personally and professionally, was very happy to receive. And, yes, the relationship of personalization to shame is quite interesting.

  2. I think we personalize because we are social creatures. It is important to us to get along. We need each other. Anyway my 2 cents for what it’s worth…
    Diana xo

    • Personally, Diana, I think your comment(s) are worth MUCH more than 2 cents. Thank you for this important one.

      • Thanks Ann, and since we ditched the penny back in October here in Canada, I guess a nickel it is!

      • How about some paper currency, or something else of higher value, Diana? That seems more appropriate. (And there’s a rumor that the US penny will be going the same route, eventually.)

  3. I think there’s not much that is really personal; even when it IS personal, when you’re talking about someone responding directly to you, you’re still dealing with another person’s errr rather personal reaction to your action, and more specifically to often a single action or event within the context of THAT person’s thoughts, desires, etc. All this is really to say that when you CAN actually say that something is truly personal, it’s a damn miracle! and something to celebrate, not worry about. if you’ve touched base that deeply, you’ve probably done something right.

    • As always, Jeff, you make me think, as you introduce a richer perspective. I will be more open to the damn miracle! and to celebration as an option, from now on.

  4. I have nominated you for Wonderful Team member Readership Award
    Of course you never have to accept an award, just know that you are appreciated!
    Lots of Love

  5. yeseventhistoowillpass

    My Toonce looks like your feline! Nice post and nice glimpse into your life..

    • Your Toonce must be very handsome. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the glimpses. As always, great to see you here.

  6. I do think personalization does have to do with the fact that we are social creatures a was mentioned by Diana above. To go a step further and say that we are social creatures and we survive better in groups and we depend on reciprocal altruism as does some of our closest primate relatives. Personalization helps make us stand out increasing the chance that someone will notice us. So perhaps personalization is just a cry for attention, but the wisdom comes in knowing the best way to get it. And hopefully that way is not too annoying to everybody else. lol

    On another note Ann I was wondering if I might have a conversation over e-mail. I know you are a busy person, but I was interested on your thoughts on judgment and given the title of your blog I figure you have some interesting thoughts on it. 🙂 My e-mail is Thank you for your consideration!

    • Thank you for this social, insightful and totally non-annoying comment, and for the gift of your email address, too.

  7. Of course my favorite part of this post is your personalized footwear, Ann. You’ve done it again.

    As far as emails we get at home go, it’s a pretty safe bet that any email flagged as personal isn’t from somebody you actually know. They already know that you know that it’s personal. Only strangers try to get your attention that way. Silly them.

    • Silly them, Mark, and silly me, if I hadn’t known you would like that photo.

      I wonder what “it” is that I’ve done again, with my footwear. My personal experience of you tells me this: it’s something good.

  8. I’m with Mark here — I love the mismatched footwear (nicely framed by an adoring cat).

    What is the story of the ant? Was it a lone ant, visiting the Blog of Living Non-Judgmentally? Or does it have friends?

    The ants in our house are very sociable, unfortunately.

    • Personally, I don’t know what attitude — friendly or otherwise — ants have towards each other, but that ant definitely was not alone. I do know what attitude I have towards this comment: it’s adorable.

  9. Personally, I enjoy following your post. Personally, I am working toward depersonalizing and to no longer accept responsibility for “negative events which are out of my control.” Also, love your impromptu photos which tells a story as well.

  10. Gene Phillips

    I love the bit of conversation between you and Aaron as I imagine the looks you exchanged: it is a small peek at something truly personal.

  11. Love the line-up in the photo.

  12. Alastair Savage

    I’m always ready for a cat photo! It’s impossible for me to have one where I live, sniff sniff…

    • Hi, Alistair! I’m very pleased to see you here, but quite displeased that you cannot have a cat. Even though that restriction is “nothing personal” .. it’s so unfortunate.

  13. Pingback: Day 515: Gathering fear | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  14. Pingback: Day 612: Not the only one | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  15. Pingback: Day 932: What do you need? | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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