Don’t Take It Personally

Robert F. Mullen

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The distinction between social anxiety disorder and social anxiety is a matter of severity; reference to one includes the other. The recovery tools and techniques provided are applicable to most emotional malfunctions including depression, substance abuse, ADHD, PTSD, generalized anxiety, and issues of self-esteem and motivation. These malfunctions originate homogeneously, their trajectories differentiated by environment, experience, and the diversity of human thought and behavior. 

“Dr. Mullen is doing impressive work helping the world. He is the pioneer of proactive neuroplasticity utilizing DRNI – deliberate, repetitive, neural information.” – WeVoice (Madrid, Málaga)

Cognitive Distortion #4


When someone says to us, “Don’t take it personally,“ we are likely engaging in personalization. When we engage in this pattern of self-appraisal, we assume that negative situations are directly linked to us, and random remarks are personally relevant. We take responsibility for adverse outcomes that do not involve us. 

Like emotional reasoning, our interpretation is clouded by our emotions. For those experiencing social anxietypersonalization often results from our fears of criticism and ridicule or our belief we are the focus of everyone’s attention. Personalization leads to negative self-perception and low self-esteem, aggravating our anxiety and depression. “If it hadn’t been for me, things would have worked out better.” 

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Did you ever walk into a room, and everyone suddenly stops talking? Assuming we were the topic of conversation is an example of personalization. Our self-centered interpretation of the situation neglects to consider alternative and rational explanations.

Personalization is closely associated with internal blaming and internal control fallacies where we falsely believe we are responsible for things we have little or nothing to do with. When we blame ourselves if our companion is not enjoying the evening, we are personalizing. When we feel undesirable when excluded from an activity, we are personalizing. 

Our concerns about how others perceive us underscore our need to personalize. Basing our self-appraisal by comparing ourselves to others leads to personalization. If a coworker receives a commendation, we feel incompetent because we were not honored. If we feel deprived of the acclaim to which we think we are entitled, we believe we are being judged unfairly.

The mature and rational response to someone receiving a commendation recognizes and appreciates their achievements, but our low self-esteem makes us envious. 

Examples of Personalization

If our significant other is in a bad mood, we assume we did something wrong. If our manager slams the office door, we imagine our performance is inadequate. If a stranger passes us on the sidewalk, it is because they find us uninteresting.

As children, we believe the world revolves around us. We are cognitively incapable of considering other probabilities. We assume our parents fight because we did something wrong. If we do not receive appropriate attention, we feel abandoned. Most reasonable people grow from this self-obsession, but SAD subsists on irrationality, rendering us perceptually underappreciated and misunderstood.

Remember, negative self-appraisal has sustained our social anxiety since childhood.

Solutions to Personalization

Like control fallacies, we assign responsibility inappropriately. It is essential to step away from the bullseye and reassess the situation rationally. We are not responsible for problems we do not create, nor are we accountable for the thoughts and behaviors of others.

Much of recovery focuses on regenerating our self-esteem by recognizing and appreciating our character strengths, virtues, attributes, and achievements. Mindfulness of our personal attributes allows us to respond to triggers that provoke our self-centeredness rationally and responsibly.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional malfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

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