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We take ourselves way too seriously. For me, a recent discovery was just how much of our pain actually comes out of others not responding to us the way we think they should. Especially when others are rejecting the part of us that is our created purpose, it is very painful. The servant needs appreciation. The teacher wants to be heard. The organizer wants to see a change in behavior. The mercy person wants emotional validation.

A parallel point is that we expect others to respond at a much higher level to us than is realistic. When others don’t respond at the level or with the speed that we think they should, we take it as a personal insult. The bottom line of that response is that we expect our influence to have a significant impact on others. When we don’t have that impact, we are crushed.

Every person responds according to his own heart. Period. Most of the time, I am a blip on the screen of another person. Occasionally, I show up at the right time and what I bring is near enough to what is happening in that person’s heart that it has seemingly great impact. But the impact is more about what is already happening in that person’s heart than it is about what I bring.

That may sound cynical, but it is true. We are incredibly egoistic creatures who believe in our ability to see and interpret life for ourselves. We tend to be very cautious about who we let in and how we let them in. That is our nature. We respond that way for ourselves.

But the same ego that feels that way about self, then feels like it should have a similar ability to be the center of someone else’s universe. It believes its words and actions should absolutely change another person. When that does not happen, there is offense. There is pain.

We take ourselves way too seriously. So much of life would be significantly better if we stopped taking so many things personally. How do we do that? Get a realistic look at the level of influence you actually have on others. Their world does not revolve around you any more than you live inside of their world.

Get over it. Take a deep breath. Choose to love regardless of response. It is very freeing. The irony is that when you stop taking things personally, people trust you more and you actually end up having more influence than when you “cared” at a high level. The other irony is that your “caring” was more about the other person responding to you than it was about your caring for them. You just didn’t know it.

If you find yourself taking things personally, it is more about you than you know. Pause. Realize that you are only an influence. When you learn to take a step back, to wait, and to hear the voice of God, the chances of you showing up at the right time with the right stuff to make a difference is much greater. Let go of the pain. Let go of the personal insults. Start enjoying the life God has given you not the one you think you should have!

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