‘It’s not personal’ can be a key turning point in helping you get unstuck from unproductive habits or ways of thinking. When you realize it’s not about you, you gain both the freedom and responsibility to move forward.
Getting unstuck from one perspective
One client had built his career success on developing collaborative relationships, yet was experiencing conflict with a senior employee with whom he had enjoyed a warm relationship over many years.
This person had been both a mentor and friend; his creative contributions were welcomed, despite occasional quirky behaviour. Now however, the balance of risk had shifted. Policy changes and potential funding cuts meant that the organization had to find new ways to fulfill its mandate.
For him, “it’s not about you” meant that he could view the conflict as not merely about communication skills, but as a symptom of the broader challenges facing the organisation. He realized that protecting the relationship might put the organization at risk. This insight gave him the freedom—and courage—to practice the advanced communication skills he had been already developing, this time in a very challenging situation.
Getting unstuck from self-criticism
Another client had built her career success on hard work and achieving high standards, both those expected by her medical profession and those she imposed on herself. But she dreaded busy periods, where she had to juggle multiple priorities, could not be as present with others as she wished, and where mistakes could have drastic impacts.
For her, “it’s not about you” meant realizing that it wasn’t about her not living up to high standards. Everyone else was struggling too. Her practice was to do what she could to streamline work, but mostly to stop being so hard on herself. She developed self-compassion by cultivating the skill of equanimity in her mindfulness practice, using a calm, kind tone of voice as she noted her body and emotional states. She got unstuck from a subtle level of inner harshness that she wasn’t even aware of.
Getting unstuck from you
These stories illustrate that “it’s not personal’ helps you get unstuck from your current interpretation of events. From an Integral Coaching®perspective, it helps you get unstuck from your Current Way of Being, the assumptions you bring and typical behaviours you rely on. These may have served you very well in the past, but you may find yourself bumping into their inherent limits.
Who ‘you’ are changes all the time. Just think back to who you were 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. You’ve learned a few things, right? You’ve probably learned to see things from another person’s point of view, to take decisions considering multiple factors. You may be less subject to emotional reactivity, able to take calm yourself in order to communicate well in crucial conversations.
Getting unstuck from your current version of you enables you to move onto a newer version of you, your New Way of Being. This is a natural process, which coaching makes conscious and intentional, thereby catalyzing the process and reducing some of the angst. New perspectives, habits of action and ways of relating give you the freedom to address current challenges in innovative ways.
Signs you need to get unstuck
“It’s not about you” can turn up in ways that may seem both positive and negative. Here are some ways that you may be taking things personally that may unconsciously be keeping you stuck;
- “Things are going really well. I’m great!” No, it’s not about you. You may have inherited a good situation from others. You may have gotten lucky. Don’t get stuck on entitlement but cultivate gratitude and pay it forward.
- “She/ he never listens to me. They don’t care. “ No, it’s not about you. Maybe they have their own problems, or a different way of communicating. Don’t get stuck in blame but find your contribution to the situation and seek to move forward together.
- “Oh no, I blew it again. Next time I will try harder/ be better.” No, it’s not about you. Trying to be good all the time presumes that you’re not. Don’t get stuck in doubts or self-blame but accept that you are human, and forgiveness is all part of moving forward.
- “The world is in dire shape. Our social/ climate/ justice issues are overwhelming. How could others (those in authority) let this happen? No, it’s not about you. Don’t get stuck in anger or fear but seek the one next step you could do to enact positive change, at whatever scale you are able.
Where do you most want to get unstuck?
Getting unstuck can be painful, as it may mean giving up a useful crux that allowed us to stay just as we are, allocating blame or responsibility elsewhere. What will give you the motivation to go through the awkward adjustment move forward? What relationships do you care most about? What issues or causes are you most passionate about? What can no longer continue, due to its impact on stress and health? Get personal here, to find your own motivation for moving forward, for yourself, your loved ones and the sake of our planet.