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

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

Frederik Imbo talk @TEDxMechelen

Here is the full text of actor Frederik Imbo’s talk: How not to take things personally? at TEDxMechelen conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: How not to take things personally by Frederik Imbo at TEDxMechelen


Good evening. Good evening. How are you? Are you good? Great.

Welcome, welcome, welcome to this match. This match will take exactly 18 minutes. Okay, and you’re all part of the same team: Mechelen.

Okay. Hey guys, I would like to see fair play on the field, respect and positivity. Is that okay for everyone? Cool. Good luck.

One year ago, I decided I wanted to become a football referee, not because of the money, though. I only get paid €20 per match. So I won’t really get rich by it. Will I? No.

I decided to become a referee for two other reasons: one, to stay in good shape; two, because I wanted to learn how not to take things personally.

I can see some people nodding; you’re probably thinking being a referee is the perfect environment to learn how not to take things personally. Isn’t it?

Because the spectators hardly ever shout encouraging or positive things. No.

Oh, what do they shout? Come on. Yeah, yeah, good. As a referee, I’m the scapegoat. Apparently I’m always wrong. It’s always my fault. And I wanted to learn how not to take all this personally.

Because I really struggle with this. For example, when I drive slowly, because I’m trying to find a specific location and somebody is just driving behind me, I feel hunted, especially when they start honking and flashing their headlights. I take it personally. I know I shouldn’t. But it just happens.

Do you see what I mean? Yeah.

Or when somebody cancels an appointment last minute I get the feeling that I’m not important enough. Again, I take it personally. Even professionally.

I’m a public speaker like tonight. This is what I do. I give keynote speeches and I really like it as long as I can draw my audience into my story. Because the very moment I see somebody is not paying attention, for example, when somebody is looking at his smartphone, it just happens. I take it personally.

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Relax! You are safe tonight. Don’t worry. Feel free to take your smartphones and you can even start talking to your neighbor; I will not take it personally.

Why not? Because now… here and now I’m very conscious that this can happen and more importantly I have a strategy to deal with it.

So tonight, I would like to share this strategy with you. Are you interested? Cool.

Because I guess I am NOT the only person in this room who sometimes takes things personally, right?

Imagine… imagine you invite a friend to go to the movies and she replies: “Oh sorry, I have to work.” But you see a picture on social media of her having dinner with some friends that very night.

Or imagine you really have worked very hard on a project. You’re really proud of the end result. But the only thing you get is criticism.

So you come home and would like to wind down and share this terrible experience. But while you’re telling your story the other one walks away to switch on the TV.

Now who would take one of these situations personally? Show me hands; come on. Lots of you. Why?

WHY DO WE TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY? Somebody says or does something and bam! We feel hurt, neglected, offended, betrayed by the other one. That’s what we believe, though. It’s the other person’s fault; he’s responsible for what we feel. He’s the one to blame.

Now hang on. Hang on.

Who says that? Which part of us is speaking? It’s our ego. Our ego thinks that others should take us into consideration. Our ego doesn’t want to be criticized; hell no. Our ego wants to be acknowledged. I’m right.

Is this what you want? Do you want to be right? Ahh, that’s exhausting. When my ego takes over, I’m fighting all day. I’m in a constant struggle with the rest of the world. And it drains my energy.

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Wouldn’t it be so much easier to not take things personally? Because then no one has power over you; you’re free. You experience much more harmony and connection between you and other people. Of course, because your energy can go towards nice things, instead of endlessly battling against the things that drive you crazy.

So the question is: Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy? I know what some of you are thinking. I will make sure I will be happy by being right.

Well, how do you do it?


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