When it’s raining, it can sometimes feel like the rain has chosen to fall on you specifically – to mess up a plan, to ruin a day you were hoping for. But you know, even though it doesn’t feel that way, that it’s not raining on you in particular. That is to say, rain really isn’t personal.
So the same goes when there’s a traffic jam, when the cupboard door comes off its hinges, when your computer crashes before you’ve saved your work, when the train is delayed, when there’s a power cut, when the price of shares you own goes down. None of these are happening just to you.
Taking each of those events as personal does nothing to help you respond intelligently to them. In fact, it may lead you down some manifestly unhelpful paths such as raging at nearby drivers, or hitting your computer, or resenting the people around you who have no influence on the situation, or freezing in fear and paralysis. It does much to increase your suffering and to limit the courses of helpful action available to you.
The more you imagine the world is out to get you, the more you’ll rob yourself of many productive ways of responding: you’ll feel more alone, you’ll need to find someone or something to blame.
And you’ll make it harder to reach out for help from, and offer support to, all the others of us who are thrown again and again into difficulty alongside you.