Posts Tagged With: cognitive distortion personalization

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

Blog at