“Nobody can hurt me without my permission.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Truer words were never spoken. But applying Gandhi’s wise reflection is the obvious challenge.

The ego is fragile. Rather than processing our triggers and emotions in a healthy way, our ego can be quick to create elaborate tales that keep us stuck in our wounded stories. Our wounded stories become our truths — false truths that prompt us to take too much to heart.

I would describe myself as sensitive and, for the most part, empathic. Throughout my life, I have felt offended, hurt and misunderstood by others more times than I can count. Thankfully, at some point, I decided that my sense of worth was not up for grabs. Not by anyone but myself.

But it’s not easy to navigate a path toward owning and nurturing one’s light. From a young age, we are programmed to fit in at all costs. Our desire to belong can be so strong that we even turn our back on ourselves, making us open game for others to define. And allowing others — even the most well-intentioned friends and family — to define who we are will never feel true. Let’s not even delve into what it looks and feels like to hand over our power to those who don’t have our best interest at heart.

As research professor Brené Brown eloquently shares in Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone,

True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.

The practice of protecting your wild heart is both uncomfortable and liberating. One way to quiet the noise and hear your own wisdom and truth is to stop taking everything personally. To stop allowing the opinions of others to cloud your judgment and view of yourself.

If that feels like a stretch, I get it. Here are a few ways I use the art of detachment to stop taking things personally, especially when I feel triggered. If they resonate with you, give them a try.

Practice Compassion

When other people attack, blame or give their unsolicited opinions, it can be very triggering. Instead of being reactive and adding fuel to the fire, find compassion.

We don’t know what other people are going through. Each of us has a private world that nobody can begin to fully understand. Yet we are all walking a human journey.

Sometimes it’s tough to feel compassionate towards others. But having compassion doesn’t mean you must abandon yourself or your emotions. It’s not about excusing other’s bad behaviour. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and process them — that’s your act of self-compassion.

Then detach. Avoid reacting and taking things personally by remembering that those who lash out are fueled by their own unresolved wounds. Don’t get swept up in their turmoil. Find the point of least resistance through compassion. Be compassionate to yourself and be compassionate to others. Don’t take untruths to heart. Honour your worth.

Own Your Position as Narrator

Narrating your inner world can be a fun job, but it’s one that sometimes needs harnessing and re-directing.

Our inner voice can be critical. It can twist and turn things until we feel bad about ourselves. This is the case when we feel triggered by something someone else says or does. Even when they aren’t ill-intentioned, our inner narrator may distort their words or actions so that we believe we are under attack. The result leaves us feeling defensive or ashamed.

Owning your position as narrator means questioning — often — the stories running through your mind.

Byron Katie, an American speaker and author who teaches a method known as “The Work,” poses 4 simple questions of self-inquiry to open your mind and expand your perspective. They can help sort out if it’s worth it to take something personal in the first place.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

The best part about being the narrator of our lives is using how we feel to indicate the tone of thoughts we give life to. If we are beating up on ourselves, we will feel uneasy and insecure. We can use these feelings as our cue to question and redirect our narrative in a way that is kinder to ourselves and others. We can look for evidence to feed this new story and free ourselves from taking things personally. If it feels good, we are on the right track. If it doesn’t, we can pause and find out why.

Rise Above the Chaos

What is your intuition asking you to honour? Surely it’s not to take to heart messages that cause hurt or upheaval in your life.

Instead of giving into in to the fiery urge to retaliate — to hurt someone you feel hurt by — don’t. Rise above it instead. Detach from the cycle of drama and see how that feels.

Psychotherapist Hilary Jacobs Hendel, who is known for her work on emotions, shares a downloadable resource on her website that explains detaching with love and openheartedness. In it she states, “Detachment means I should not try to change or blame another, but instead make the most and best of myself.” This beautiful directive is one worth receiving.

Instead of getting caught up in what other people think or proving them wrong or right, put your energy into yourself. Be curious about your triggers — they can teach you about yourself. Allow yourself lots of space and grace to feel and process all of your emotions. Be the narrator who tells yourself stories about why you are worthy as you are. Give yourself loads of compassion, so much that it spills over to others too. You are the one who can choose to rise above the chaos in order to honour and protect your wild heart. Rise on!

Article originally published on emilymadill.com


  • Emily Madill is an author and certified professional coach, ACC with a BA in business and psychology. Emily is one of Thrive Global's Editors-at-large and a coach at BetterUp. She has published 11 titles in the area of self-development and empowerment, both for children and adults. You can find her writing in Chicken Soup for the Soul:Think Positive for Kids; Thrive Global; The Huffington Post; TUT. com; Best Self Magazine; MindBodyGreen; The Muse; WellthyLiving.ca; TinyBuddha; Aspire Magazine and others. Emily has a private coaching practice and an online program offering courses that support others to create lasting habits around self-love, well-being and all things related to time and weekly planning. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her husband, two sons and their sweet rescue dog Annie. Learn more at: emilymadill.com