It is not about me. It’s about you.
Most of us have said these words in one situation or another.
In the first case, you take responsibility for yourself. In the second, you blame someone.
And while I often tell you to take responsibility for yourself, sometimes it’s not your fault. It’s not about you.
Let me explain…
When It Is About Them
Let’s say you find yourself in a circumstance where you’ve done or said something, and somebody responds in a negative way. They get angry, frustrated, or feel hurt.
It’s possible you shouldn’t have said what you did. It’s also possible you didn’t say anything wrong at all.
If you feel confident that the other person misinterpreted your words, meaning or intention, that’s a different story. What other people feel and believe—what goes on in their head and heart—is entirely about them. It’s not about you.
They choose how to respond or react to your words.
Their emotions and thoughts about your words or actions are about them—not about you.
When it is About You
Let’s look at the same situation from a different perspective. Maybe deep down inside you know you did or said something that could have hurt, angered, frustrated, or in some way upset the other person. Maybe you even intended to do so. (It’s easy to strike out if you don’t remain present and intentional or become overcome with some emotion.) You know you could have said or behaved better…or you could have brought a different energy or attitude to the situation. In this case, it’s about you.
Yes, it is. ‘Fess up.
That said, the other person’s response or reaction remains about them. You can’t do anything about that. Even when you do something wrong, you can’t control someone else’s behavior or emotions.
In this scenario, it’s about you, and it’s about them. The other person should—and might—take responsibility for their words and actions, and you must take responsibility for yours.
Don’t fall victim to what other people say and do or how they react. Their responses do not need to govern yours.
But when you know you are in the wrong, fess up. Apologize. Take responsibility. Then move on.
How they choose to react to your apology is beyond your control as well. Forgiveness lies in their court; thus, it’s about them. So don’t stand around trying to apologize over and over again if they don’t accept your apology.
And take responsibility for how you respond to their reaction. Don’t react. Respond.
Respond, Don’t React
I want to qualify the difference between a response and a reaction.
A response is what you say or do after you decide on the best course of action. You consciously decide what to do or say.
For example, your co-worker says something judgmental about your work. You don’t immediately say or do anything. Instead, you wait five minutes, breathe deeply, and imagine how best to tell this person you felt judged.
Once you have a plan of action, you seek out the co-worker and speak in a thoughtful and intentional manner without emotion. You might say, “I realize you might not have meant to judge me or my work, but I felt judged. If there is something I need to do to improve my work, I’d love to hear it in a constructive manner that will help me do my job better and us work together more smoothly.”
That’s a response. And it’s taking responsibility for your feelings and consciously and intentionally taking action based on the situation.
A reaction, on the other hand, is like a knee-jerk behavior. You say or do something instinctually or based on past habits or emotions. You don’t put any forethought into or make a conscious decision about how to behave.
For example, when the co-worker judges you or your work, you jump out of your chair and yell, “What the hell? Who are you to say that? Get out of my office.”
That’s a reaction. And it might be based on being judged by your mom when you were young or a spouse who judges you regularly or your insecurity about your work performance. A reaction more often than not is based on previous experiences and hurts.
To respond in a responsible manner, take a moment…then think, “Wow! They said that? Is that really what they meant? How do I feel about what they said? How do I want to respond? Where are these emotions and thoughts coming from? Are they related to the situation or something in my past?”
Don’t Fall Into Victimhood
When you react, you allow yourself to fall victim to other people’s reactions as well as to situations. You are not at choice, and you feel as if your thoughts, emotions, and behavior are governed by what happens to and around you.
To get out of victimhood, respond. Make it about you…not about them.
Don’t allow what happens inside you to be dictated by someone else or an outside situation. Choose your response to whatever is happening or has happened.
Whatever you feel about what someone has done or an event that occurred takes place inside you. It’s your interpretation of the situation or their actions.
Everyone has a Story
Think about it this way. Everyone has a story—their rendition of what happened. What’s the story you’re telling yourself about the situation?
We tell ourselves tons of stories that aren’t true. These are the thoughts we think, like “He judged me and wasn’t nice.”
In reality, he might have had no intention to judge you—and maybe he didn’t. You just might have read his words that way—told yourself that story and then reacted with anger and hurt.
That’s about you, not about him.
If you struggle to determine what’s real and what isn’t, read Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is.
Create Healthier Relationships and a Happier You
When you begin to practice the concepts in this post, you’ll see amazing results in your own emotional and energetic state. You’ll feel happier and more centered.
Not only that, you’ll see amazing results in your relationships. They will no longer be filled with blame and resentment. You’ll get along better with others, and they will respond differently to you.
- When you say or do something that upsets someone else, you can’t make yourself responsible for their reaction—their emotions or thoughts and anything else that goes on inside them.
- When someone says or does something that upsets you—you can’t hold them responsible for how you feel, what you believe, or how you behave—aything going on inside you.
Reactions and responses are the responsibility of the individual experiencing them—not the one who triggered them.
The next time you find yourself in an It’s-not-you-it’s me or an It’s-not-me-it’s-you situation, pause. Ask yourself, Is this really about me?
If the answer is yes, think about how you want to respond, what kind of energy you want to project, and how you want to feel. If it’s about you, take responsibility for yourself and your emotions.
But if the answer is no, and it’s not about you, accept the reality that there’s nothing you can do about their reaction or response. How they feel and what they believe is up to them. It’s not your responsibility to change that.
Keep these concepts in the front of your mind, and you’ll find yourself happier and developing the ability to create much stronger and healthier relationships.
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If you are interested in learning how to respond, rather than react, apply for a free one-hour high-performance strategy session. (Click here to download the application.) Fill it out, and then attach it to an email and send it to Nina@Ninaamir.com.
Make 2017 the year you do everything with clarity, consciousness and intention.
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