GOOD IDEA, BUT HOW DO I DO IT?
I read The Four Agreements book and loved it. But I couldn't figure out from the book how to actually not take things personally. So it remained in the "good idea" collection, along with all the other concepts and ideas I had not implemented!
So, now I will try to address it clearly enough.
Here's my thoughts on this - and this thinking has cleared it all up for me, so that I am 99% free taking things personally.
THE CHILDHOOD IDEA OF DEPENDENCY
One of the hardest things to disassemble is the childhood idea that what is done or said must be "about you", personal - and that it is threatening to you to think that someone doesn't like you or might not be nice to you.
IT'S A MATTER OF "ENLIGHTENMENT" OF THE OTHER PERSON
But you might note that an enlightened person would not judge you nor reject you nor criticize you, as that person knows we are all doing the best we can, period, with no blame and certainly no anger.
As a person goes further and further away from being enlightened, their aggressive, reactive, and/or critical behavior toward you is ALL about them - they must have added that way of being, since an enlightened person had zero of that. So, indeed, while that unenlightened person is "using" you and blaming you for being the trigger of their emotions/behavior, it is strictly a figment of their imagination and not a fault about you.
That's hard to "get".
THE PATHWAY TO "GETTING" THIS
It will definitely be helpful for you, especially if you want to stop criticizing yourself, for you to study L.S. Barksdale (free copies of his books are on a sister site). For now, at least read these two pieces on The Site: No Fault and also The Reasoning For No Blame. Those are essential readings, for you cannot possibly attain deep, enduring happiness without understanding them fully.
WHAT WE MAKE UP ABOUT IT
A person seems not very responsive to you, then you assume that the person doesn't like you, which in turn reminds the primitive brain of the danger of someone not liking you, you go back to how you would be screwed if your caretaker chose not to feed you because he/she didn't like you, so then you'll die. By this time, your dumb lower mind will have built up a scenario that is indeed seems to be high danger to your dumb primitive lower mind.
The lower brain takes this further, using poor reasoning again.
"Well, I must make myself so acceptable and act so well that there are no flaws so that all people react well to me."
The problem is that it is an illusion to think one can control the uncontrollable.
And there are likely a few alternative interpretations of what you believe occurred.
A person might not react because of what is going on inside the person. That is why part of growing up is learning "not to take it personally".
Of course, it is all based on assumptions, stories, false beliefs, and poor reasoning (on our part and/or on the other person's part). So, basically what occurs is all based on a "non-truth", something that does not exist in reality, that we react to as if it were the truth.
SOLVING THE "PROBLEM"
The problem to address is "how do we fight this perceived danger?"
The lower mind is "paid to" (by survival) look out for, and to err in favor of the pessimistic, and to interpret anything that occurs as a threat. It also will tend to exaggerate, so that it can motivate the human to act as quickly and as definitely as possible, via the powerful fear response. Now, let's step back for a moment, using The Power Pause, so that we can engage our higher brain to help us analyze this perceived problem to determine if it is a danger at all and, if so, what "size" is it (big, small, virtually nothing).
In analyzing any problem in life, one must determine the process that is involved that lead to the "result". If we do that, we see that we can intervene at any point in the process. Preferably, one should intervene at the early possible step in the process, preferably at the original cause (which was the thought of the danger)
Of course, another way out is to realize that you are no longer powerless and dependent on the caretaker (or any other person) to feed you any more. You are totally capable of that, so it means nothing at all that someone disapproves of you - the connection to danger does not actually exist, if you use your higher brain to reason it out. It helps for you to fully understand Approval - A Possibly Deadly Game, Psychologically Speaking.
So, a this point, if you haven't read the links above, you will not likely "get it". So I suggest you read those links and nail this down, as there is a huge benefit to cutting off the repeated problem you create with other people not approving of you!!!
Also, to reinforce this, and to clear up things more, I suggest strongly that you read the following: (in addition to the side piece to the right)
READING TO REINFORCE THIS AND TO FINALLY PUT IT TO REST!
YOU'VE GOT TO NAIL THIS DOWN AND ELIMINATE IT!
Just as you need to eliminate all major false beliefs, to extinguish them and install new workable beliefs, you should continue reading and reasoning this down to the point where you have proactively learned it to the level of full understanding.
And, yes, you will need to do the necessary work, but the payoffs are enormous, the most worthwhile thing you can do with your time!!!!