Don’t take things personally.

You’ve heard this before, right?

About how much happier you’ll be when you do it?

So, you’ve tried to put it into practice. You give people the benefit of the doubt. You refocus. You tell yourself that you don’t need people’s approval.

And, things have gotten a little better. Someone cuts you off in traffic, and you manage to stay calm as you tell yourself that they’re having a worse day than you are.

But, someone pushes a button. . .you know, THAT button, and the ground you’ve gained instantly slips away. You’re as upset as you’ve ever been, or even more so.

What happened? Why can’t you overcome this problem, when it seems like everyone else has? Friends say how great their lives are now that they don’t take things personally, and you just shake your head. There must be something wrong with you.

The Lie You’ve Been Told about Emotional Reactions

Have you ever heard that you get to choose how you feel in response to someone else? Hogwash.

When a situation pushes one of your intense buttons, your survival mechanism springs into action, and that blows away your capacity to choose. You react automatically from a place inside of you that is 2 years old.

Have you spent time around 2-year-olds? They are not capable of rational thought. They feel good or bad, and they react automatically from one of those basic feelings.

Now, you may have learned how to act like an adult when your big buttons are pushed. You feel the volcano about to go off, but you clamp your mouth shut and keep it to yourself.

But, whether you feel it for a nanosecond or wallow in it for days, and whether you feel like swearing up a storm or like sobbing, your knee-jerk feeling response to an intense trigger is something you can’t shut off.

What You Can Learn from Your Knee-Jerk Reactions

These intense triggers give you an important window into your sense of self.

This central hub stores how you feel about being you. Your sense of self was formed from conception until the age of 2 1/2, as you absorbed how it feels to be human from the people around you.

Whether they were feeling good or bad, you absorbed it all, just as a sponge absorbs whatever you plop it into. Because your rational, thinking brain doesn’t start to operate until you’re 2 1/2, you didn’t even get to evaluate whether what you absorbed was good or bad for you. It was all just stored as “this is how it feels to be human.”

But, even though you couldn’t process it back then, there are feelings that you experience in inherently positive or negative ways when triggered. For instance, being ignored usually triggers the feeling that you don’t matter. Failing a test usually triggers the feeling that you aren’t smart enough or your efforts don’t make a difference. Collectively, these negative feelings are called Learned Distress®, and Learned Distress becomes a powerful force in your life.

Notice, I said those situations trigger your feelings, instead of “make you feel” a certain way. No matter what the trigger, if you feel a certain way, that feeling has been stored within your sense of self from early in your life.

Feelings Have Consequences

Your sense of self isn’t just a passive storage bank of feelings from which you react.

Your sense of self is actually generating every moment and situation of your life.

That’s right. Each moment, each situation, each relationship, each interaction you have is generated automatically out of that storage bank of feelings inside of you. Without your conscious input or control.

Every instance in which someone says something that “makes you feel” like you don’t matter. . .your sense of self generated that.

Every instance in which you feel that you’re just not capable of succeeding. . .your sense of self generated that.

Every negative situation in your life is generated automatically from your Learned Distress. Not from your thoughts. Not from what you do. Not from what other people do. (This doesn’t excuse other people’s bad behavior, by the way. But, it gives you insight into why their behavior is directed toward you, and it ultimately gives you power in your own life.)

The Danger in Burying Negative Feelings

So, wouldn’t squelching those feelings be good? Maybe if you keep those feelings buried, they wouldn’t be able to generate negative situations?

Yes and no, but mostly no. Burying or denying your feelings can keep the negative situations at bay for a while. But, those negative feelings keep building over time.

As the intensity of negative feeling grows, so does the intensity of the situations that it generates. So, if the feeling that “there’s never enough for me” generated some bounced checks when you were 20, at age 50, it could generate bankruptcy.

The Bigger Danger in Burying Negative Feelings

When you bury your negative feelings, you cut off your access to the most important part of yourself. The part of you that existed before you started absorbing feelings from people around you early in life.

At your core is the kernel of energy that you began with in the womb. It is your natural well-being, what some people might call your soul self or essence. It is the feeling that you are all good being just the way that you are.

Your access to your natural well-being is the same pipe that your negative feelings come through. So, when you bury your negative feelings, you keep your well-being buried, too.

And, it’s a lot of good power that is kept under wraps. Natural well-being:

  • Allows you to feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • Is the source of your creativity and uniqueness.
  • Allows you to discover and fulfill your life’s unique purpose.

Why Life Gets So Hard

When your well-being is buried, your Learned Distress gets greedy. It becomes the predominant generating force in your life.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “But, I’ve had many good things happen in my life. How can she say that my Learned Distress is generating these situations?”

When Learned Distress is in charge, you have to control it, leap over it, or go around it, and make good things happen. You might be very good at making good things happen, despite the Learned Distress, but can you feel how much work it is?

You might even have noticed that over time, it has gotten harder to make the good things happen. The intensity of Learned Distress has grown, so you have to control harder, leap higher, or go further just to get around it, all before you can work to achieve your goals.

But, There’s Good News

Just as your Learned Distress automatically generates negative moments, your well-being can automatically generate good moments. Effortlessly.

You’ve never worked hard to have a bad day, right? When well-being is the generating force, good days and situations happen that easily.

The trick is to get rid of the Learned Distress, so that your natural well-being can expand and take its rightful place as the automatic, generating force in your life.

But, you might be wondering if I’ve just contradicted myself. If burying your feelings isn’t good, and it’s not possible to turn them off entirely, then how could you get rid of the Learned Distress?

And, There’s Better News

Remember how you absorbed the Learned Distress before your rational brain started to operate? Well, the key to getting rid of Learned Distress is accessing your sense of self when your rational brain is shut down and out of the way.

Your rational brain is largely out of the way when you meditate or are hypnotized, but there is only one time when your rational brain is entirely shut down. When you sleep.

The three integral elements of Quanta Change target your sleeping brain while it is actually recharging your sense of self. You get to tell your sleeping brain exactly the Learned Distress you want it to unlearn for you in that powerful time.

As Learned Distress are removed layer by layer, your well-being becomes the generating force behind your moments.

Quanta Change participants say things like a client did today: “I thought I was a loser and could never have good things happen for me. But, for the first time in my life, I feel like I have a say in my life and it can be good.”

Or, what another client said: “After my move, I thought it would take a long time to find work. But, it turns out I have skills that are unique in my new home, it was easy to connect with colleagues here, and work is lining up more easily than I thought it could.”

Why Taking Things Personally Is So Worth It

The only way you can tell your brain what Learned Distress to unlearn for you is to be in touch with it. To allow yourself to be triggered and really sit with it and experience the negative feeling. To be perfectly honest, it is my clients’ least favorite part of working with me.

But, then their well-being generates a situation that feels really good effortlessly, an unprecedented experience in their lives, and they say it was all worth it. What I hear a lot is, “I never even thought it was possible to feel this good being me!”

Then, they dive right in, excited to tell me the next piece of Learned Distress that they’ve uncovered by “taking things personally.” Not excited to experience the bad feeling, but excited by their experience of having really gotten rid of something they thought they could only keep under control, at best.

What Do You Really Want?

Do you want to keep spinning in the same patterns you’ve lived with your whole life?

Do you want to keep repeating the same frustrating situation over and over again in your relationships, or your career, or with your health?

Are you going to just keep trying to control the building negativity?

Or, are you ready to find out the good that will come from really getting in touch with what’s generating all of this from inside of you? Are you ready to get to the core of your issues, once and for all?

You have within you the capacity to feel really good being you, just as you are. Don’t you owe it to yourself to prove it to yourself that’s true?

You have untapped creativity and uniqueness in you that can benefit you, your family, your community, and your world in untold ways. Don’t you want to find out what that’s like?

Feeling really good and fulfilling your life’s purpose are the real outcome of taking things personally. Now, it’s up to you to decide if that’s what you really want. Because, that decision, too, is deeply personal.

I know what I would choose.