presentsThe Evolving Self
When growth is the only option...

The Evolving Self is an e-newsletter that reflects the belief that growth is a choice that can bring an ever deepening and expanding awareness of who we are and what we are here for. The reader can expect affirmations, quotes, book reviews, insightful commentary and tips that support the growth of the individual.

Affirmation: In the present moment, I am at peace.

Quote: "If they're not treating you right today, tomorrow will not be any different." -Susan Gale

Newsletter archives:

May 2019 - Shame, Self-Esteem and Your Inner Child

April 2019 - Incivility/Becoming the Monster

March 2019 - Losing Things/Re-ordering Things


Certified Aromatherapist

As a Certified Aromatherapist, I am qualified to make custom blends to address various health concerns and skin issues. Many aromatherapy blends also have a quality of emotional support.

If you are interested in custom blends to support your physical and/or emotional health and/or coaching along with aromatherapy solutions, please email me at

Contact me to get your own custom blend!

Taking Things Personally

In the movie, The Road House, Patrick Swayze is the supervising bouncer of a rough bar. He is lecturing his staff saying, "Be nice," to every circumstance where they would interact with a customer. Escorting them out, "Be nice." Picking them up off the floor, "Be nice." Whatever the cirucumstances, "Be nice." What if they are violent towards you? "Be nice and don't take it personally."

Taking things personally typically involves an interpretation that a person's behavior, attitude, or words are a direct attack on your value. Taking things personally is nearly a universal human behavior, what I call a human dilemma. It appears most people can relate to it. Not only that, even when you are aware that you're doing it, it's not really that easy to change.

What does it look like when someone is taking things personally? It is an over-reaction, out of proportion to the grievance. The person is typically deeply offended, even outraged. When someone says, "I was disrespected" I hear, "I took that personally."

Why do we do it? I think it relates to our early experiences.  When things happened our caregivers didn't explain themselves or help us to understand events in an objective way...why you got in trouble, why the dog is not coming home, why Mom is so angry. As children we don't have any other context in which to interpret events other than that we're responsible, it is part of the developmental process. If the event has negative consequences to you and those around you and you believe you are responsible for it, you will typically feel shame as a result. Eventually, with experience, we are able to be more objective in our interpretations for many things. But some of these early interpretations are carried forward with us and show up as, "I feel responsible; "Those words hit my "I"m not good enough button"" and we take it personally.

What's really interesting is that 9 times out of 10, the person saying the offending words has no thought of you in their mind AT ALL. It's a completely impersonal act that has to do with their need fulfillment and often without any thought of how their behavior may effect others around them. Human dilemma.


Since, nearly everything I write about has something to do with me (don't take that personally,) I can honestly say that I have struggled with this issue myself.  So, I started asking myself, "how can I stop taking things so personally? What would I actually have to do?

My first thought is I could start by making a decision to stop taking things personally. While this sounds good, simply making a decision just doesn't go far enough. There are many things I intend to do at the beginning of the day, but then life shows up, I get distracted, someone's being an xxxhole, or whatever and there I am taking things personally.

I realize that for me to change how I respond to people and circumstances in the moment would require presence. I mean, when something is happening, inserting awareness of my self, connection with my self and the bigger picture of detachment when the event is actually happening. It would also require changing my self-talk, coaching myself with a reminder to detach from the behavior of others.

I believe it is possible to do. Not necessarily easy, but definitely possible. Afterall, this is in essence what we teach in classes for Behavioral Health. Creating a pause between cause and effect, so that you can mindfully choose your response. So then I started asking myself, what would I have to do to create that pause, to bring awareness into the moment.

Like many things, it takes practice starting with a daily practice of mindfulness. Sitting for a few minutes in a quiet, uninterrupted space and focusing on input to the senses such as the sounds around me, or my very own act of breathing. With regular practice, it increases my ability to be present. Then, in the moment of the event, it may take several tries. I realize afterward, "Oh, this was one of those moments." Until a time comes when I'm able to see the opportunity before I open my mouth and then I walk away/drive away thinking, "I did it." And I feel good about myself for having retained my perspective.

Here's the interesting thing. I notice that when I feel good about myself. When I am right with myself and the world, I don't tend to react so much. I don't take things so personally. I'm less reactive. Working on loving and accepting yourself as you are is one of the best things you can do to contribute to your emotional health and wellbeing.

If you would like to improve your self-esteem to see how loving yourself more can change your life, email me to learn more about Life Coaching.

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Jaqui Duvall works as a coach, mentor, trainer, facilitator and public speaker developing and delivering workshops, leading mentoring groups and working with individuals to help them identify and express their inner spirit and live a life of consciousness and intention. •  San Jose