Have you ever been in a situation where you’re freaking out over what you perceive to be a catastrophic event, but no one else seems to think it’s a big deal?
Of course, you explain the gravity of the situation to them because they clearly don’t understand what’s going on. But the more you explain it to them, the more they insist that you’re overreacting.
Situations like this tend to make you wonder. On the one hand, you could assume that everyone else is wrong and you are not taking things too seriously. The problem is with them for failing to understand what’s at stake.
On the other hand, maybe you do take things a little too personally.
Are you overly conscious of the way others view you?
Do you constantly worry that you’ll embarrass yourself?
Does your reputation or image stop you from trying certain experiences because of how it would look?
Do you find it difficult to admit when you’re wrong or don’t know something?
If you said yes (or struggled to say no) to several of these questions, you likely take yourself or life too seriously. While you shouldn’t treat everything with levity, you shouldn’t also show up to a barbecue wearing a suit and tie, metaphorically speaking.
Let’s look at 19 tips that will help you ease up and help you take things in stride.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you take yourself and your life less seriously. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
1. Change your mindset.
Everything starts with the mind. Negative thoughts become actions. You can’t change your actions without changing your thoughts. Any goal you want to accomplish, any habit you must break, you must first do so in your mind.
You need to identify the negative thought cycles that are on repeat in your head. Are you always worried about something? Is your mind filled with catastrophic thoughts? Are you preoccupied with what others may think about you?
Whatever the case may be, confront the negative thoughts. Do not ignore them or let them go unaddressed. Resist negative thoughts with positive affirmations or just some good old-fashioned truth.
If you made a mistake on a project at work, remind yourself that as an imperfect human being, you are going to screw up sometimes. But it’s ok because everyone screws up sometimes.
Change your mindset. Don’t let negative thoughts run unchecked in your mind.
2. Find a positive about the situation.
Even if things are as bad as you perceive them to be, there will always be a silver lining hidden somewhere. The trick is finding the positive in a negative situation. Sure, you may have made a mistake, but there is a lesson to be learned or a new way of doing things to figure out.
So, when you feel overwhelmed by a situation, ask yourself what positive thing can I get from this experience? What can I learn from what has happened? What should I do or not do if this ever happens again?
If the only thing you can glean is a lesson, then you’re still in a better position than you were in before.
3. Get therapy.
Change is hard, and we’d like to think we can do it all on our own. But changing behavior and habits is really difficult. There comes a time when you just have to reach out for help because making the necessary change is beyond your ability.
It doesn’t mean you’re weak or stupid. Rather, it means that you’ve assessed your ability to cope and recognize that you need help to deal with the issue.
What does this have to do with taking yourself too seriously, you may wonder? Well, it’s possible you’re encountering this challenge because there is a bigger issue at hand.
Perhaps you suffer from social anxiety or you’re on the autism spectrum. But without the help of a licensed professional, you won’t get the right diagnosis nor learn how to handle social interactions.
You’ll continue to blame yourself and feel frustrated over situations because of a condition that is beyond your control. Even if something more serious is not at play, you’ll still benefit from talking to a non-judgmental third party who can teach you how to take things in stride.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
4. Apply the 5 x 5 rule.
Your heart is beating faster, blood pressure is rising, and panic is crawling up your spine. You are seconds away from blowing things way out of proportion again. Before you lose control, try to apply the 5 x 5 rule to the impending cataclysmic event.
When applying the 5 x 5 rule, ask yourself whether this problem will matter in 5 years?
If yes, talk to someone who can help you find a solution instead of brooding over the unresolved crisis. Get busy finding a solution.
If not, you have 5 minutes to worry about it and then move on.
The 5 x 5 rule helps you put things in perspective. It allows you to feel your emotions but also pushes you to move on, either by focusing on resolution or by letting go.
5. Hang out with kids more.
Have you ever noticed how quickly children get over things? One minute they’re laughing, the next they’re red in the face, crying. One minute they don’t want to be your friend, the next they’re claiming you’re their best friend in the entire world.
With children, nothing is ever a big deal. They forgive and forget easily. And you know what? They’re better for it as a result. Have you ever seen a depressed or anxious baby? Even when they fall while learning how to walk, they pick themselves up and get back to it.
Hanging out with kids more can teach you how to let go easily, how to have fun in the moment, and how to love without fear.
6. Don’t compare yourself to others.
We live in a competitive society. From childhood, we’re compared to other people to get us to behave or do better. That comparison either gets us to change our behavior or shut down because we feel we can never measure up.
As adults, we continue to compare ourselves to other people and compete against people who are busy living their lives. We undervalue our accomplishments because we feel they are not up to what so-and-so is doing. Because we feel our lives don’t compare to others, we cannot appreciate what we have.
Comparison occupies you with pursuing things, people, and experiences you don’t really want. Look at your life objectively. Do you even want half of the things you have? Are you happy with the life that you’re building?
Everyone is different. We all have unique abilities and are on a different path in life. Figure out what your abilities are and what your path is. Focus on that instead of letting comparison steal your joy and self-confidence.
7. Stop wondering what other people think.
Have you ever been certain that everyone was talking about you? Maybe you were at a party and you just knew that you were the topic of discussion.
It was pretty obvious. You walked into the room, and the music immediately screeched to a stop. Everyone suddenly stopped talking and, as if in unison, they turned to look at you as they glared and whispered.
Put like that, it sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? Yet a lot of us have the idea that everyone is talking about us.
In actuality, human beings are pretty selfish creatures. We are only concerned about ourselves and the things that affect us. If you or your issues don’t impact us in any way, we’re not likely to care beyond a few minutes, if at all. To put it bluntly, no one is checking for you.
When you think about it, it’s pretty arrogant to assume that everyone is worrying about, talking about, or looking at you.
The world does not revolve around you, buttercup. Stop wondering what other people think because they’re probably not thinking about you at all.
8. Accept that people will love you or hate you.
You can’t please everyone all the time. No matter how awesome you are, some will just not like you, maybe even hate you. And that’s ok.
It’s ok to not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Trying to get everyone to like you is a surefire way of doing the exact opposite. Not only will you waste your time and energy, but you may also find that you turn people off with your people-pleasing antics, thereby increasing the pool of those who dislike you.
The worst part is you’ll end up not liking yourself. So save your time, your energy, and your mental health by liking you first and surrounding yourself with others who do as well.
9. Find better ways to cope with stress.
We get cranky when we’re stressed. When the pressure builds up, it’s hard not to take yourself too seriously. You can’t always get rid of the people or circumstances that are stressing you out, but you can learn healthy coping skills that will enable you to deal with it better.
Something as simple as taking a walk outside or doing deep breathing exercises or writing in a journal can help you de-stress. It doesn’t have to be an activity that takes up a lot of time or money.
But you must figure out a way to cope with stress because prolonged exposure to it can lead to mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. It can also lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and abnormal heart rhythms.
If you know the reason you are extra sensitive lately and blowing normal issues out of proportion is that you’re under a lot of stress, look for ways to de-stress. Not only is the stress affecting your mental and physical health, but it’s also negatively impacting your relationships as well.
10. Give people the benefit of the doubt.
Yes, it could have been deliberate. It’s quite possible the person is just a jerk and said what he said or did what he did just to hurt your feelings. But it’s also possible the person didn’t think their comment through and didn’t mean to offend you.
One perspective will keep you brooding over the insult and hurt feelings, while the other will allow you to move on.
Don’t be quick to be offended. Give people the benefit of the doubt, even when all the evidence seems to show that you shouldn’t.
But let’s be clear, giving people the benefit of the doubt does not mean allowing them to abuse you or take you for granted. Once is an accident, twice is poor judgment or a lapse in memory, three times it’s a habit that needs to be shut down.
11. Change your routine.
Are you a stickler for routine? Is your day shot to hell if one little thing doesn’t go according to plan? A routine is supposed to help increase productivity. But life is such that it is impossible to plan everything out. Trying to do so will only end in frustration. There has to be room for the unexpected.
If you’ve become a servant of your routine, rather than it helping you to be more effective in managing your schedule, it’s time to change things up.
Attempt to break out of your routine periodically and go with the flow. Try to get comfortable with the unpredictable. Depending on how much of a control freak you are, you may need to start small. A massive overhaul will be more detrimental than helpful.
Try changing your route to work. Go to a new place for lunch. Change your hairstyle. Do something that will get you out of your comfort zone for a short while.
12. Find opportunities to laugh.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many short- and long-term benefits of laughter, such as relieving pain and improving the immune system. It also puts you in a more positive mood, where you’re better able to see the humor in situations and not take life as seriously.
Increase the time you spend laughing by surrounding yourself with funny people who don’t take themselves or life too seriously. Turn off the news and stop watching violent shows and movies. Instead, watch comedies and shows that will make you laugh.
When you spend more time laughing, not only are you relieving stress, but you’re better able to see the humor in situations that would have been overwhelming before.
13. Stop pursuing perfection.
You’re measuring yourself up against a pretty high bar, one you’re not likely to reach. This puts you under unnecessary pressure. Because you can’t meet up to your impossible standards, you spend most of your life feeling inadequate.
Stop pursuing perfection and embrace your imperfections. In your imperfection lies the opportunity for growth. The best part is that no one else is perfect either.
We all are struggling to be better versions of ourselves.
14. Confront your fear of embarrassment.
Your fear of embarrassing yourself is making you desperate for the approval of others. You worry you’ll look stupid in front of people, often strangers, so you stick to what you feel is acceptable behavior or you censor your personality to not attract positive or negative attention to yourself.
The fear of shame and embarrassment kills our drive. We shut down and ignore our desires to avoid being laughed at or being hurt. As a result, we remain stagnant because this fear keeps us from trying new things and stepping out of our comfort zone. This fear stops us from moving forward.
Stop being less than who you are to gain the approval of outsiders. Don’t silence your voice to make others comfortable. If they can’t handle all of you, then they don’t deserve any of you.
Confront your fear of embarrassment and your desperate need for approval by stepping out of the persona you’ve created for yourself.
Are there things you’ve always wanted to try but were reluctant to? Try them. Will some people laugh? Possibly. Will it matter? Not at all.
When you are comfortable being your authentic self, you encourage others to do so as well.
15. Work on your insecurities.
Your insecurities play a huge role in how seriously you take yourself and life. The more insecure you feel about your abilities and who you are, the more you are likely to overreact in situations that seemingly expose your vulnerabilities. In areas or situations where you feel more confident, you are probably better able to handle issues that arise.
Work on overcoming your insecurities.
If you feel uncomfortable about your looks, do something about it. If you feel inadequate at work, look for ways to improve. If you’re feeling insecure in your romantic relationship, work on it with your partner.
Use your insecurities as an opportunity for growth.
16. Drop the ball on purpose.
One mistake won’t kill you. The world will not end if everything doesn’t go according to plan. But for those of us who are control freaks, these concepts are hard to grasp. We loathe to look anything but prepared and in control.
There are so many things in life that are outside of our control. We need to learn how to deal with situations that creep up unexpectedly. One way to do this is within a contained environment. Drop the ball on purpose.
When you drop the ball on purpose, you can limit the ensuing chaos to a large extent, while learning how to better handle “unexpected mistakes.” Kind of like fire and tornado drills, it helps you prepare for an emergency.
17. Consider the worst thing that could happen.
When you’re running yourself ragged worrying about a problem that might arise, take a few minutes to ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”
An impending disaster is coming. There’s a chance it may or may not occur. If it does happen, what’s the worst that could happen?
For example, maybe you’re worried about blowing a big presentation at work. What’s the worst thing that could happen if you do? Will everyone burst into laughter? Perhaps your boss will be so angry that he/she will fire you on the spot? Will the client take their business elsewhere because they were so disgusted by your presentation?
This exercise will help you reflect on the situation and separate worry from fact. In the example above, it’s not likely that any of the scenarios will happen. What’s probably going to happen is people will notice you’re nervous or you may come across as unprepared.
Some people will be kind about it, others will not. To avoid that, practice over and over, maybe in front of other people, to help you prepare as much as possible.
18. Give yourself tiny challenges.
Make it a regular habit to step out of your comfort zone. Do things you find challenging or uncomfortable. Do activities that stretch your abilities and force you to grow.
By giving yourself tiny challenges consistently, you force yourself to get comfortable being in spaces where you cannot predict your reaction nor those of the people around you.
If you are uncomfortable with social interactions, challenge yourself to go out for dinner with a friend at least once a month. You like eating and you like your friend. But the environment is new and different, one where you are not very comfortable.
These challenges allow you to engage in behaviors that build you up. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, you’re working on overcoming them.
19. Be yourself.
It sounds deceptively simple, but we all struggle with it at different stages. We struggle to be comfortable in our skin. Sometimes we worry that our loved ones don’t really love us for who we are. Many times, we don’t even love ourselves.
So we change into somebody else.
If there’s one thing you should remember, it’s this: you don’t have to struggle to remember the truth. When you are your authentic self, you don’t struggle to keep up pretenses. Some people may not like the real you. Others will.
But most importantly, you will like yourself more.
When we take ourselves too seriously, we take others too seriously as well. That’s why their opinions hurt us and why we struggle for their approval. We let their judgment define our identity and accept the labels they give us.
To stop taking ourselves so seriously, we must let go of our ego, set aside our “reputation,” stop looking for the approval of others and become shame-resilient.
We must accept and love ourselves.
Still not sure how to be less serious about everything? Speak to a therapist today who can walk you through the process. Simply connect with one of the experienced therapists on BetterHelp.com.
You may also like:
- How To Not Care What People Think About You
- How To Get Over The Embarrassment Of An Awkward Moment
- 12 Examples Of Approval-Seeking Behavior (+ How To Drop Your Need For Validation)
- 8 Effective Ways To Stop Negative Thoughts From Taking Root In Your Head