Slow Sunday: Getting over yourself

Dec 11, 2016 · 4 min read

The first thought on your mind is I'm talking about you. Not a group of people, not an unspecified person. You, specifically. Who else would I be talking about? Your mistake is understandable. You, specifically and personally, are taking it personally. Your mind works that way. It's built to be selfish, to believe everything is about you. If you want to stop making this mistake, believing that everyone is always talking about you, you must first get over yourself.

Slow Sunday: Getting over yourself -- Mervi Emilia

First, our own conduct online is to blame. The way we are talking about each other, when we don't want to name names. Subtweeting, vaguely mentioning people and events, passive-aggressive ranting. How many times have you went on Twitter or Facebook, and without mentioning any names, called someone out for doing or saying something? I guess we all do that at some point. It's the nature of these services. Because the person you are talking about could hear (or rather, read) it, get upset, perhaps even sue you. Safer bet is to bad mouth without mentioning names or clear descriptions. Since you do it yourself, the others must also be doing it too when they talk about your bad behaviour, the way you talk or write. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't. Has anyone ever taken personally something you wrote online, when you didn't talk about them? I have experienced this, so I should know better. I should know better than take personally some vague mention someone else makes. It's not necessarily about me.

This way of using "you" instead of some more passive wording isn't helping either. In my first language, Finnish, you'd be an idiot for writing or talking like this. It's a bad form, common amongst athletes and businessy people. In English, especially online, it's okay. You are this, you are that. You do this, you do that. You. Personally, you. This you based writing and speaking has a way of making it more personal, instantly. That's part of the trick, making people feel they are being addressed personally. When you think I'm writing about you is when you comment, like, reply, share, strike back, or agree. Your personal space is where you react.

That's how us humans function. We are selfish beasts. We take things personally, even when they aren't about us. When a social media platform changes from stars to hearts, it's personal. When a person you know decides to be a vegan, it's a personal slap to your meat eating face. Talk about freelancing in general terms, and a freelancer thinks you are talking about him or her, personally. Nothing personal, just the way your mind works.

Your thinking is built around you. In the eyes of evolution, being selfish has been usually good for your ancestors. They have survived and procreated by thinking about themselves. That's why your mind, formed by the long history of selfish survival, first goes to thinking that everything around you is about you, personally. Including the things that are about others. In some cases your belief of being talked about comes from your own bad conscious or the nagging feeling that something's wrong. When part of you already believes that your blog writing isn't top notch, someone calling bad bloggers out becomes a personal attack at you. When you think you are probably sharing too many links on Twitter, that comment about too many links being shared is about you. It strikes a chord in you. You yourself feel you are doing something wrong. Thus this other person must have noticed it too.

In this very first Slow Sunday I want to remind myself and you as well, that it's nothing personal. Whatever the other person says or writes, it's about that other person, eventually. Because that other person is also selfish, taking it personally, misunderstanding, seeing things from a distinct viewpoint. And when you decide that it's about you, you are only showing your selfishness.

There are lots of people on earth. Many websites and social media services, many badly written blog posts, many other freelancers, many people still eating meat (unfortunately, in my personal opinion), many many yous. And all those people, they don't have time, energy or interest to think, write or talk about you specifically. When you believe, without any real proof, someone is bad mouthing you, it's probably only you and your own bad mouthing. When you believe someone is calling you out for doing something, it's probably your own bad conscious for doing that.

Getting over yourself. Getting over from believing that everything this other person writes or says is about you. Getting over with expecting to be talked at and about. Getting over the belief that another person would have that time, energy and interest to put in you. That's the first slow step.

Slow Sunday is a new series about slowing down, dealing with depression and anxiety, soothing your stress, relaxing, and getting over yourself. Do let me know if you have a specific subject you'd like me to write about. And please, share your personal thoughts and feelings about the subject in the comment area of the article.


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