I shared the above reflection a while ago and the following is a further elaboration...
To take something personally means to get sensitive and touchy over something. It's an ego-driven irrational emotion. The inwardly-defensive ego often perceives what others say or do in a certain way that leads us to feel insulted, offended, disrespected or disgusted, regardless of whether it was actually intended; oftentimes, it has nothing to do with us directly.
To feel as such means we are already disempowered and assuming the victim mentality. Typically, this happens when other people's words or acts reinforce some insecurity within oneself.
The thing is, we can never control others or situations which are happening outside of us. What we can control, however, is how we react to those others and their behaviours — the variables. We control our attitude; how we perceive those variables; how we label and process the situations related to them.
Taking things personally entails preoccupying the self with what others say and think. Meaning that one must have a certain level of care about the opinions of others. To be offended or hurt by what others say or write or think, one must first value those others and their opinions. If we don't, then it shouldn't concern us. Let them say and think whatever they want. Why would that bother us? For he who angers you controls you. There is absolutely no good reason to allow outside factors to have this much control over us and our lives.
Many of the people who take offense easily are usually those who hold that there is only one true set of beliefs, which always happens to be their own. They could get offended when exposed to a remark or a comment about their nationality, religion, race, or family. When others' beliefs don't match theirs or contradict them, they tend to act on the defensive. They can even attempt to falsify the beliefs of others as a way to protect theirs. So getting offended here is very much like a child's reaction; hence, the “small minds” notion mentioned in the reflection.
Personally, I'm offended only by ignorance, wars, famine, and how humans interact with Mother Nature and with each other. Being offended, however, is simply an opinion. It does not give me any rights to not hear anything I don't like or agree with; nor does it mean that I am right and others are wrong.
As Stephen Fry merrily elaborates, “...It's actually nothing more than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fucking what.”
You see, if we base our self-worth on what people say or do, to us or not, then we're allowing the outside world to decide how we feel about ourselves. We are by consequence disempowered and controlled. People’s opinions, though, are nothing but a byproduct of their own life and reality, which usually we know nothing of. Their words and actions are mere reflections of their own experiences, emotions, and perceptions, not ours. Obsessing about any of that and getting touchy, annoyed, and heated will only negatively affect us at the end. That's why letting go of getting offended and taking things personally means letting go of suffering.
While getting offended and taking things personally seem like juvenile traits, maturing through life seems like growing thicker skin. A chief part of growing out of the small mind is realizing that even though we cannot control others, we can control our reactions to them, and to everything else, actually. Once this understanding is established, these traits become futile and obsolete and naturally vanish. For in order to grow we must let go.