How Not To Take Things Personally: Frederik Imbo (Transcript)


You are standing at the kickoff of the match of your life, the match by which you will learn how to stop taking things personally. So as a referee, I brought my coin for the toss and every coin has two sides: heads or tails. And they stand for two strategies…. two strategies to no longer taking things personally.

Sir, sir, good evening. You’re the captain of this huge team. You can choose: heads or tails?

Okay. You’re lucky; it’s heads. Are you ready for the first strategy? Okay, here comes.


What do you mean, it’s not about me? This sounds weird; doesn’t it. Because when I take things personally, I’m convinced it is about me.

When I see someone is looking at his phone, I feel offended. I think hey I’ve put so much effort and time in this presentation. I want respect. I think me, myself, and I… sounds familiar, no? Yeah.

But in fact, it isn’t about me. What if I try to look at it from the other person’s perspective, asking myself why, why is he or she looking at his or her smartphone? Maybe he has just received an important message, one he has been waiting for.

Or the topic of my presentation is not really his cup of tea? Could be. Or on the contrary he finds it very interesting and he wants to take notes on his smartphone? Very smart to do that by the way.

I simply need to shift my focus from me to we and I won’t take it personally. If I try to see the intention of the other one, I make space for understanding instead of irritation.

Does this ring a bell with you?

When you put your son to bed but he doesn’t want you, he throws himself on the floor, kicking and screaming: I hate you? Do you take that personally? No, no, you don’t because you know this is not about me; it’s about what he wants, what he needs. He’s angry because he just wants to stay up a bit longer; that’s all.

So the first strategy to not take it personally is: it’s not about me. Look at the other person’s intention. When a driver is tailgating and flashing his lights, he probably does it because he’s in a hurry; it’s not about me. You see it’s as simple as that, in theory.

Because in real life it turns out to be a hell of a job. Do you have any idea, ladies and gentlemen, how many thoughts our brain produces a day? 50,000!

And guess how many of them are positive? Only 10,000!

So this means that 80% of what we think are negative thoughts. That’s a lot; isn’t it.

When you see two colleagues talking to each other and just then they look at you and they start laughing, do you think: oh, they must have noticed my new shoes and I want them too?

Now, or do you think: darn, they’re laughing at me; they’re gossiping about me.

So it takes a lot of effort to correct yourself and say: hang on, I have no clue. They might be laughing about something that has nothing to do with me.

So seeing the positive intention of the other one requires a lot of discipline and training. And that’s why I became a referee to train my brain, not to take things personally.

I trained my brain and not run half a week the entire period of a match, I said this for the football dummies.

And now before the match I’m warming up, not only physically but also mentally. I give myself some pep talk in the dressing room: Frederik, watch out! Lots of things will trigger you during the game. You’re going to make decisions who some will not agree with and they will shout unpleasant things at you.

So I tell myself: Frederik, don’t take it personally. It’s not about me. They just want to be right. They simply want their team to win.

You see, when I focus on the intention of the other person, there is no need to take it personally. When I applied this strategy very consciously, I admitted, I feel much more at ease on the field. When the coach, the players or the spectators do not agree with my decisions, I’m less easily thrown off balance.

This strategy, ladies and gentlemen, works. Not always, unfortunately, because some words they shout at me like here do really hit a raw nerve: You’re a loser; choose another hobby. You know what! Go fishing.


Maybe they are right. Perhaps I took the wrong decision. Maybe I am a loser, honestly. That’s how I feel sometimes.

You see this. Every coin has a flip side. When this first strategy: it’s not about me doesn’t work, it simply means it is about me.

I have to look in the mirror and question myself as a beginner referee, I still feel insecure, especially me. I never played soccer. It is about me because it has something to do with my insecurities. I doubt about myself. Or a part of myself that I haven’t come to terms with.

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By Pangambam S

I have been a Transcriber and Editor in the transcription industry for the past 15 years. Now I transcribe and edit at If you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know. And please do share this post if you liked it and help you in any way.