Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Do you take things personally and jump to conclusions? Many people struggle with this problem.

We checked on Google to see how many people were searching ‘How to stop taking things personally’ and it shocked us. There were over 423 million results! So today we’re going to share some ideas on this topic.

This concept is not new. Ancient Greek philosopher, Epictetus said, “Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren’t there.”

What are some times when you’ve taken things personally or jumped to conclusions? On those occasions, how did you feel? Probably not so good. You’re not alone.

Recently we had an incident happen that got us in touch with taking things personally and jumping to conclusions. Normally, we have been fortunate to get good people helping us with home projects. We contacted a well-known company to install something for us. Based on past history of things not going right with them, the day before the appointment, we called the company to make sure that the tech person would have the right equipment when he showed up. We were assured that he would. The tech person who showed up to do the work was a nice person. However, sure enough, the tech person did not have the right equipment to install.

After being on the phone with customer service several times for hours to get three simple pieces of equipment installed, we wondered how there could be so much confusion. Doug finally got a manager on the phone. I (Lynn) also talked to the manager hoping that their company could clear up the communication issues. The manager later proceeded to tell Doug “I have a wife just like your wife.”

That’s where I jumped to a conclusion. I took it personally and thought, ‘How can he be so rude.’ I assumed it was a negative comment. Later Doug told me he thought the manager was just trying to be friendly. My negative thoughts and conclusions were fleeting and I focused back on the goal. I realized negative thoughts are a dose of wasted energy.

One thing that happens in similar situations is that you may think that the problem is about the other person or you might think the problem is about you. Here’s a situation where it could be easy to jump to a conclusion.

Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving at the speed limit and you have a driver behind you, honking his horn and flashing his lights. What conclusions do you jump to? Maybe you think it’s about the other driver. Is the driver some crazed person on drugs or just plain rude?

But maybe it’s a totally different situation. Perhaps the driver is trying to signal you that something is wrong with your car and you need to pull over. As Paul Austen says, “It often happens that things are other than what they seem, and you can get yourself into trouble by jumping to conclusions.”

Sometimes the reason you perceive someone is saying something, or doing something, negative, is that you see that same trait in yourself. Do you see traits that might play a part in you taking something personally?

So, how can we avoid taking things personally and jumping to conclusions? Jake Horton said, “Jumping to conclusions is when you make a negative assumption that’s not justified by facts.” So get the facts straight. He suggests two major ways to avoid jumping to conclusions.

The first way is to avoid ‘mind reading.’ None of us are accurate mind readers. We can’t know what someone else is thinking or why they are acting a certain way. There’s lots of social anxiety in today’s world as people wonder what others are thinking about them. So, stop worrying and comparing. Just be you!

The second way is to avoid being a ‘fortune-teller’. A fortune-teller is one who predicts negative outcomes for the future that’s unlikely to happen. Then they make decisions based on that prediction. Ask yourself if other people would come to the same conclusion. In many cases we really don’t have facts to prove our negative thoughts.

What about you? What happens when you jump to conclusions? At times, maybe we can relate to James N. Miller when he says, “The only exercise I excel at is jumping to conclusions.” We hope the ideas shared here help you feel even more happy and confident as you avoid taking things personally and jumping to conclusions.

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at WeCare@SharingLifesLessons.com. More information and videos at http://SharingLifesLessons.com.