It's Not About You
The title of this post is a phrase that I think about a lot. I think about it in traffic when someone cuts me off. I think about it when I find something that a person does annoying or when someone is rude. I take a breath and remember: it's not about me.
Because it probably isn't. 99% of the time, we take things personally when they don't have anything to do with us. We get upset at someone in the movie theater using their phone as if it is a personal insult. We rage in traffic because someone won't let us merge. We get angry at our spouse because they forgot to pick up the bread. We get riled up about the opinions of strangers on the Internet. We take everything so personally when it isn’t meant to be.
So then what if it isn't about us? Well, if we can see that, we can see the space between the action, the person acting, and ourselves. In that space, we have room to recognize and then let go of the anger or upset. We can stretch out there and make the space for the reality of the situation. Someone cuts you off? Maybe they didn't see you. It doesn't mean that they're a jerk whose sole purpose in life is to make you miserable. A store clerk doesn't help you? Maybe they're getting pulled in ten different directions by other customers, not making a judgment on you as a person. You never know the whole story of someone else or what their reality is like. Why? Because it's not about you.
Does this idea excuse someone's poor behavior? No. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't confront someone who insults you or that you shouldn't say "hey, that really upset me.” It also doesn’t give you a free pass to treat others poorly. It just means that you don't have to take everything personally, so you don't have to carry the weight of it and pass that onto other people. Snapping at someone in traffic easily leads to snapping at people in your office or at home who had nothing to do with it. It weighs heavily on your well-being to take these things on as personal affronts every single time.
We've all had these encounters (both on the giving and receiving end) and our self-involved society has convinced us that everything is about us. What if it's not? What if there can be that space where it isn't about you? What if we can just breathe and live in that space where compassion and understanding reside?