I’m very hard on myself. My grandma used to tell me “You’re too sensitive. You need to let things roll off your back.” Needless to say, I take it personally when I am told I take things too personally. And I still do. Just the other day I was in some extreme denial when my husband told me I could be more assertive because I’m a very compliant person (and I am). But like a vehicle, we can drive our feelings, or we can let our feelings drive us. So let’s put our feelings into the right gears:
Park: Here is where I pause and examine why I’m taking things so personally. Reflect on the good traits and the good God has for me. I realize I may need to get right with Him and ask for His forgiveness if I’m in sin. Am I sinning in anger? Am I jealous of my neighbor? If that’s the case, I confess what sin I’m in, God forgives me, and I am ready to move forward. No more wallowing in anger or jealousy. Jesus said, “If the truth sets you free, you are free indeed.”
(Remember it’s okay to feel. Feelings are indicators of what’s going on in our sphere of relationships with others and myself. Feelings are there to signal to me what’s going on inside – if there’s a conflict, I can get scared. Others get angry. Whatever the feeling is, it should be processed with honesty. How am I really feeling? There’s a place for feelings.)
Reverse: I may be wrong, after all. My feelings don’t always tell the truth. I may need to apologize, forgive another, or forgive myself. Apologizing and fixing the problem means I’m serious about bettering myself and loving the other in the situation. Telling myself to ignore the situation or running away from my honest feelings doesn’t get me anywhere, only deeper in denial and farther from resolution. When I mess up, or need to change, it’s loving to be confronted and come to terms with that feeling, good or bad.
Drive: I’ll bury my feelings for a while. And until I’m honest with myself and say, “Okay, it’s their opinion, and maybe there’s truth in it. Am I taking things too personally? Am I being too hard on myself, too afraid of conflict, too sensitive?” If there’s some truth to it, maybe I should consider what they’re saying and where they’re coming from. If they don’t intend to hurt me, they’re saying it because they love me. It would be unloving to say nothing, like in the case of my husband’s observance – if he didn’t tell me and point it out, then he would be standing by, expecting me to change, and I would be idling in neutral, without even knowing I need to change gears.
BipolarBrave side note: For someone who has been through those roller coasters of depression and mania, here is a better way: asking for help. I do that in a few different ways. I take my medication as the doctor prescribes (that gives me a clearer picture of what’s true and what’s not), I talk to and get counsel from my therapist and close family, and I pray and ask God for self-control and help to discipline myself and let out my emotions in a healthy way. Praying out my feelings is fine too, perhaps one of the more helpful ways to resolve a conflict or handle a difficult issue.