Who Are You: Velcro or Teflon?

“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”  ~Miguel Angel Ruiz

“Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”  ~Dalai Lama

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather as you think it should be.”  ~Dr. Wayne Dyer

“Let go of the people who dull your shine, poison your spirit, and bring you drama. Cancel your subscription to their issues.”  ~Dr. Steve Maraboli

“Be hard to offend.”  ~Pam Pegram


I often find one of the most challenging Spiritual hurdles and areas of growth for us humans is the concept of not taking things personally.

We somehow have this belief that what others do or say is somehow because of us—we made them do it, we aren’t good enough, we did something wrong, or we deserved it. This conviction is nothing more than our ego playing games with our sense of peace and happiness, convincing us we actually have that kind of power over other people.

Stop taking things personally

To realize what people do or say is because of what is going on inside of them is a shift in perception and contrary to what we have been taught to believe. To get the point across in a way we can understand, let’s look at an analogy.

As we grow up in life, we are going to have things happen that are not so wonderful. Let’s call this stuff the garbage of our life.

This may come in the form of verbal, emotional, or even physical abuse. It may look like abandonment or neglect from one or both of our parents. Basically, our garbage is anything that does not come in the form of unconditional love, that is, acceptance, appreciation, approval, allowing, and affection (as so brilliantly ascribed to in David Richo’s book How to Be an Adult in Relationships.)

As we can well imagine, some people will have a much larger and heavier collection of garbage than others. We all have garbage. The important thing is what we do with it.

  • We can carry it around like a suit of armor (an inflated sense of self), or we can shove it deep inside hoping no one ever sees it (a really low sense of self.)
  • Or we can decide to look at our garbage, then to heal, grow and learn from it and finally, to discard it.

Now imagine this: a bunch of men, women and children carrying around baskets of garbage of all different sizes. Because remember, we all have one. Picture some of them throwing their garbage at each other. This activity may look like hate, judgement, anger, insult, fear, blame, shame, arrogance, abuse, punishment, loathing, contempt, neglect, bullying, and so forth.

The irony is that doing this is so subconscious the participants don’t even know they are throwing it. They just know they have something uncomfortable and heavy they need to get rid of.

And anyone is fair game.

Here’s the rub: people are going to throw garbage at you but are you going to be Velcro letting it stick and allowing it to become your garbage or are you going to be Teflon letting it bounce off and back to them where it belongs?

Pay attention to when you react, when you get upset, or when you take anything anyone does or says personally. This means someone’s garbage has attached itself to you; you are Velcro! See if you can gently pluck it off and discard it without bashing yourself or the originator.

Picture the garbage in your mind if it helps. Know that they too are a victim and their garbage bag must be heavy. This strategy is not to excuse the behavior as right or okay, but to stop you from wearing someone else’s stuff.

If you find you are able to just observe the behavior of others without being offended or upset by it, congratulations! You are being Teflon. This is a much more peaceful and empowering way of being, and with continued practice it can become your automatic response.

Try choosing to be Teflon and not Velcro and see how much better you feel.

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