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Taking actions personally means placing too much emphasis on another’s words or behaviors. The hurt you experience makes it easier to become offended. Taking actions personally means that you are allowing another’s behavior to get to you. Their words become harmful to you. Taking actions personally means you feel invalidated. To be invalid means to be wrong or weak.
It’s possible to be wrong in a factual way. I thought it was too hot outside, but you are right, it’s actually pleasant. Even though being wrong in this way can be hard for some people, it doesn’t usually result in becoming offended. It’s also possible to feel wrong in a personal way. I failed to recognize my daughter is sad; I am defective. That feeling of being defective is shame. It cuts to the core. It is a state of not feeling accepted or wanted for who you are.
Taking Actions Personally Creates Rejection
Rejection isn’t fun. It can be quite disorienting and debilitating. It can cause self-doubt to fester. Without the internal strength to discount negative, painful messages, people can become defensive. Being defensive means attempting to manage the pain through some form of counter-attack or deflection. I don’t know how to defend against this, so I will go on the offensive to shift the focus away from me. While you can see that defensiveness has a purpose (to protect), it, unfortunately, often ends up inflaming an already tense situation.
Taking Actions Personally Increases Conflict
How can someone else’s struggle give life to (trigger) your personal struggle? It happens when you allow another’s words to become an offense. To work through conflict, it’s important to see clearly how this happens. The focus shifts from another’s problem to your problem. Instead of one wounded person, there are now two. Two upset people dramatically increase the likelihood of an unhealthy argument.
A wounded person feels threatened. There is danger. The greater the threat, the more resilience is needed to prevent a deeper wound. The less confidence people feel in dealing with an attack, the greater their sense of desperation. People in great distress will more likely act impulsively. They might subconsciously hold to it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Taking Actions Personally Reveals Vulnerability
It can be a tactic to expose people and use what is learned against them. This can quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more offensive a message, the more energy is needed to resist it. The more defensive energy put into resisting, the more the energy is directed back to the other.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.Proverbs 15:1,2,4 NIV
Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.Proverbs 10:12 NLT
The opposite of offended is validated. Instead of giving others what they don’t need (destructive words), try giving others what they do need. Instead of returning rejection with more rejection, offer acceptance. This doesn’t mean letting someone walk all over you or take advantage of you. You should maintain healthy boundaries at all times. However, it’s possible to have boundaries and offer words that bring healing instead of harm.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.Proverbs 4:23, 12:18 NIV
When tempted to take actions personally, consider your need for validation. God is the richest source of validation. What He says about you matters more than anyone else. When you are triggered, seek Him with all your heart so you can experience true security. God’s love for you is immovable, constant, permanent.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.