Last updated:

June 2, 2024


 min read

Guarding Your Heart: Therapist's Guide To Not Taking Things Personally

Discover practical strategies for guarding your heart and developing emotional resilience in our therapist's guide to not taking things personally.

Reviewed by
Sneha Toppo
Written by
Reshmithaa Nair


Do you find yourself constantly feeling hurt or offended by the words and actions of others? Are you someone who tends to take things personally? This tendency often leads to feelings of unworthiness, defensiveness, and hurt. This can impact one’s relationships and emotional well-being. Well, it is a common experience, however, it is quite important to remember that you have the power to change, perceive, and react to these situations. In my professional experience, I have come across many individuals who face this issue. When individuals can recognize and address their tendencies, they in turn tend to cultivate healthier perspectives, emotional resilience, and communication. And this journey often involves empathy and self-awareness.

Why You May Be Taking Things Personally 
Social Perfectism

Now, some of us associate the term perfectionism with performance. Now this aspect is rarely talked about, however, it is quite common. Social perfectionism occurs when you cannot bear the idea of others witnessing your shortcomings or mistakes. When you believe you must be perfect in the eyes of others, you will continually worry about what they think of you. And when you're always concerned with what others think of you, it's almost impossible not to take things personally.

But here is something we often forget, it's normal to make mistakes. More importantly, it's okay to be concerned about what others think of you. We are social beings, after all. Our greatest advantage as a species is our ability to coordinate and cooperate. And that ability is dependent on our ability to envision what others are thinking and feeling, including about ourselves. So it's no surprise that we are concerned about what others think of us!

Negative Self talk

Another reason is our tendency to internalise external events. When something negative happens, we often automatically assume it is a reflection of who we are as a person, rather than considering external circumstances or the other person's intentions.

Self Esteem

When it comes to the psychological phenomenon of taking things personally, there are a few key factors at play. One of the main reasons we tend to take things personally is due to our own insecurities and self-esteem. If we are already feeling sensitive or vulnerable, even the slightest criticism or comment can feel like a personal attack.

Childhood Trauma

Lack of emotional support as a child, as well as being blamed by parents, can contribute to our belief that we deserve to be laughed at or humiliated.

Stress or Fatigue

When you're not in a good mood, you're more likely to misread someone's statements.

Additionally, our cognitive biases play a role in how we interpret and react to situations. Confirmation bias, for example, leads us to seek out information that confirms our preexisting beliefs about ourselves, making it more likely for us to take things personally. Overall, understanding why we take things personally can help us better manage our emotions and reactions in various situations. Through self-awareness and practice, we can learn to respond more objectively and thoughtfully, rather than letting external events dictate our internal state.

How To Not Take Things Personally 

We cannot control what others do or say, but we can control how we respond. We have the choice of what to internalise (take personally) and what to reject. Although it is difficult to avoid taking things personally, it is a skill that should be developed. Here are some strategies you could follow through -

Recognize your triggers

To avoid taking things personally, start by recognizing your triggers. Take the time to recognize the situations, words, or actions that make you feel defensive or insecure. Is this criticism from a specific person? How do you compare to others? Understanding your triggers helps you anticipate and manage your emotional responses more effectively

Differentiate Fact from Interpretation

Often, what we feel as personal criticism or judgement is only our own perception based on doubts or assumptions. Learn to distinguish between objective facts and the subjective meanings we assign to them. Consider the question, "Is this statement truly about me or could this be a reflection of thoughts, feelings, and actions of another person?

Practice empathy

Developing empathy for others helps minimise the inclination to take things personally. Remember that everyone faces their own challenges, insecurities, and viewpoints. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person and think about the motives or motivations underlying their words or actions. Empathy not only increases understanding but also healthier relationships.

Set boundaries

Setting appropriate boundaries is critical to protecting your mental well-being. Learn how to assertively convey your needs, preferences, and limitations to others. This allows you to establish a safe environment in which you feel appreciated and cherished. Remember that it's alright to say no and focus on your own mental and emotional well-being.

Challenge negative self-talk

Negative self-talk might increase beliefs of taking things personally. Become conscious of your internal conversation and confront negative self-beliefs or preconceptions. Replace self-critical thinking with more balanced and sympathetic views. Practice self-affirmation and concentrate on your qualities and accomplishments.

Cultivate resilience

Resilience is the ability to recover from misfortune and obstacles. Cultivate resilience by adopting a growth mindset, which views setbacks as opportunities for learning and personal progress rather than failures. Self-care activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit include exercise, mindfulness, hobbies, and spending time with supportive loved ones.

Seek Support

Seek help from friends, relatives, or a mental health professional as needed. Speaking with someone you trust can provide validation, perspective, and encouragement during stressful times. Also, do remember that it is okay to seek help from your close friends or family.  Therapy and counselling can provide extra tools and strategies for regulating emotions and developing resilience.


Learning not to take things personally is a process of discovering oneself, awareness, and compassion. Implementing these techniques and strategies into your daily life will help you develop greater resilience, confidence, and emotional well-being when navigating interpersonal situations. Remember that you can choose how you respond to environmental stimuli; embrace this power and thrive. And if you're finding it hard to let things go, consider seeking guidance from a therapist who can provide additional support and strategies. Just know, you're not alone in this journey!

Ready to strengthen your emotional well-being and build healthier relationships? Book a consultation with Rocket Health today and start your journey to a more resilient you!


Share with us your experiences of caring under pressure. (2017). Mental Health Practice, 20(7), 5-5.

Summereads Media. (2020). Summary of the four agreements: A practical guide to personal freedom (A toltec wisdom book) by Don Miguel Ruiz. Summareads Media LLC.