Get Angry

Take It Personally

Have you ever been in a position where you felt doubted, denied, or disrespected in a way that really made you crave revenge? If so, you’ve probably had someone tell you something like, “Never take things personally.”

In the past, I’ve been the guy to give that advice.

Self-help author Don Miguel Ruiz has done a magnificent job at popularizing and articulating what is often referred to as "The Second Agreement."

The idea, in a nutshell, is, “Don’t take anything personally.”

Here's a summary of the idea in Ruiz's own words:

Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.

Now, I think that's a very useful idea and I've found myself in some pretty lengthy discussions where I've defended it to people who absolutely detest this concept.

As a critical thinker, however, I like to keep my options open.

Sometimes I like taking things personally. Even when I know I am not being personally attacked, I deliberately choose to act as if I am being conspired against. I occasionally use this idea as a psychological trick for motivating myself. As long as I can employ the "take it personally" technique in a way that's healthy and isn't destructive, I derive great practical value from it.

Anyone who's ever played competitive sports probably understands this concept very well.

Choosing to look at your competition as "the enemy" or "the bad guys" can be an invigorating experience.

One of my favorite "take it personally" stories comes from Michael Jordan.

Before a sold-out contest between the New York Knicks and their rivals, the Chicago Bulls, Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy accused Michael Jordan of being a "con-man" who deliberately acts friendly towards opposing players in order to "soften them up" and gain a competitive edge over them.