The Art of QTIP- How to Stop Taking Things So Personally 


The other day I attended a workshop on Brain Health and Development. One of the successful coping strategies we explored was QTIP- Quit Taking It Personally. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me because I had just finished venting with a friend about a situation that I felt was unfair and quite frankly out of my control. I am pretty good at looking for the lesson (after a few minutes of venting or moping) by asking “what is this trying to teach me?” instead of spiraling into “why is this happening to me?” The reality is on both accords I am assuming it’s all, or mostly about me. But the reality is that sometimes the real lesson is that the situation has little or nothing to do with you!

Learning about QTIP reminded me of the story my older daughter told me about one of her first days working in her high school’s counseling office as an office helper. Her job was to run passes or help with small administrative tasks but the office was small and sometimes you could hear conversations if the counselor’s doors weren’t closed. On this day a student came in and was talking about how a particular teacher didn’t like him. The school counselor (an older gentleman with a very direct manner about him) replied: “she doesn’t know you from Adam!” My daughter couldn’t believe how rudely the counselor replied and shared it with me when she got home. As a fairly “new to the field” school counselor, I was a little taken aback by his reply too, but now we can laugh about it because it was most likely true! Most people just aren’t thinking that much about us. A lot of unfair treatment we believe we are receiving really has little to nothing to do with us on a personal level. 

Put Yourself In The Other Person’s Shoes-This is the big one- Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, have empathy for the other person. Could they be stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted? I remember when my father was dying of cancer I spent almost three weeks- days and nights in the hospital with him. Because I am a pretty Type-A person I was still trying to answer my work email (even with my out of office reply on). Sigh…

In my reply to a parent’s question, my email came across short and not the typical warm response she was used to getting from me. In her subsequent reply, I felt the situation escalating. She had no idea where I was or what I was dealing with, which wasn’t her fault! I was in no position to answer work emails. Instead of squaring off with her I apologized and expounded on my answer. She later found out about my situation and wrote me an apology letter. 

Perhaps their seemingly bad behavior has nothing to do with you. Try shifting from fight mode to being more empathic. Take a kindness approach and see if the energy shifts. Even if it doesn’t change the other person’s behavior I’m willing to bet you will see a shift in how YOU feel about your behavior which of course is the only thing you really can control. That brings me to my next tip.

Focus on What You Can Control- This is probably my most used counseling tactic. Most often when someone (including myself) is spiraling about a situation and can’t seem to pull back, it’s because their focus is on the parts of the scenario they have no control over. If you break down the problem to what is in your control and focus your energy there it becomes less about what someone is or isn’t doing for or to you, and more about what you can do to better your situation. It’s no longer extrinsic (outside force) and more intrinsic (inside force) so in other words, you take your power back and stop feeling victimized. It allows you to see your perceived problem actively and not passively. 

Practice a High Road Mentality– Remember that you can choose how you respond to any situation. Practice the idea of taking the high road. Erase that long angry text to your spouse or friend and simply type “ok”. Change the topic or leave a conversation that feels uncomfortable before things escalate, learn to let the little things go. And remind yourself that most things really aren’t about you. The more you choose to “Go High…” (thanks, Michelle!)  The better you will get at it and more importantly the better you will feel!

Those are my tips to help you Q.T.I.P! I’d love to hear your thoughts or your tips on not taking things so personally too!

Until Next Post, 

xo Tonya Parker


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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

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