In Relationships, Don’t Take it Personally

April 11, 2011

In Relationships, Don’t Take it Personally

  • Do you find yourself getting upset because someone hasn’t included you in an invitation
  • Do you ignore a friend because she hasn’t called you in such a long time?
  • Do you feel unimportant and resentful when a friend doesn’t pick up the phone to call, and you think she should have by now?

When you express one of these disappointments to another friend, do you hear, “Don’t take it personally! I’m sure they’re just busy and not ignoring you.”

Sometimes it’s easy to make assumptions about the intentions of others.  Maybe they really didn’t do it “on purpose.” Or maybe there was one not-so good-purpose aimed at you but all mixed in with a dozen other very positive purposes.

It’s always good to ask yourself, “What else could be at play here? What’s going on inside the other person’s mind and life? Is there a bigger picture, and what might that be?

Having compassion for other people is key to not getting hooked into negative feelings. Having compassion doesn’t weaken your position, rather, it makes you feel better.

I recently had lunch with a long-time friend I haven’t spent much time with in almost a year. My attempts to reach out weren’t returned to my satisfaction. So I just kept making up one story after another about why she was so missing from my life as a friend. Some of the stories weren’t so nice. When we did connect, we had a delightful breakfast and she admitted that life had been strained. She thought it was best to not burden me with her negativity. In retrospect, I was so happy that I had been determined to be a friend and not bring my preconceived notions to our get together. We ended up laughing and expressing our love for each other and committed once again to grow old together.

Being in a conversation about intentional friendship for the last several years supported me in pausing and not burning bridges in my friendship. Maybe you have a story to share where you didn’t take it personally and then a little relationship miracle occurred. We’d love to hear about it, and thank you in advance for the contribution.

–Margaret

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