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“It’s Not About Me”: On Not Taking Things Personally

What a strange wonder the human brain is: according to Frederik Imbo, it generates some 50,000 thoughts per day, but only 20% of those are positive. The remaining 80% dance in a ring of negativity around the bonfire of our fears, doubts, and self-criticism.

In this lively 18-minute TED talk, Imbo urges his listeners to practice shifting those thoughts away from “me” and toward “we”—away from the suspicion that others are laughing, criticizing, or resenting us and toward the more likely scenario that their behaviors have less (perhaps nothing) to do with us.

Refocusing on the other person’s intentions is often all that’s needed to reduce our negative feelings. But sometimes criticism hits a nerve. In those cases, it’s vital to show ourselves as much empathy as possible. Imbo explores strategies for that kind of affirmation in the second half of his talk. Check it out!

P.S. Estimates vary widely on the number of thoughts we have per day. Imbo’s figure may have come from this Stanford University study; others put the figure closer to 6000.

It can also be hard to determine exactly what constitutes a single thought. In any event, the brain is a busy place!


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In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)