“It’s Not Me, It’s You” Let Go Of Others’ Problems

By Robert Clark, September 19, 2016

Maybe a boss is short with you or a coworker looks at you with a grimace all day. It can be tempting to believe that your coworker’s sideways look has something to do with you. That is not always the case.

Check Yourself

If you have done something you feel guilty about it could cause you to personalize the situation. Ask yourself if you have done anything to make yourself feel that way. For instance, if you have gossiped about the coworker you may be projecting your guilt into the interaction. After introspection, if you find that you haven’t done anything wrong, you may want to ask yourself if you are taking ownership of someone else’s problem.


Consider His Perspective

Your coworker may have all sorts of things going on that you are unaware of. It may be helpful to give him the benefit of the doubt. His car could be having problems or his child could be sick. You never know what he is dealing with. He may be having a bad day.


Let It Go

A helpful skill to learn is to let others have a problem. If someone else is having a problem, it may be helpful to verbalize (to yourself) that it’s ok if they have a problem. If a person decides not to like you, you can give yourself permission to let them not like you. You can give them permission to have a problem (to yourself). If they want to address a problem with you, they have the choice to talk to you about it.

Many times, people are plainly preoccupied with themselves. So, if they choose to go through the day with a grimace they can own that. Some people’s faces just rest in a grimace. It is unhelpful to take ownership of someone’s resting grimace.

What we can do is smile. Just the simple act of smiling can make you feel better. People tend to smile back reflexively, so it’s possible to make others feel better as well as yourself. However if a person chooses not to smile, we don’t have to own that. We are responsible for ourselves and no one else. You never know, maybe tomorrow the coworker will tell you thank you for smiling because they were having a bad day.