Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.
Even when a situation seems so personal, even if others insult you directly, it has nothing to do with you. What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds. Their point of view comes from all the programming they received…The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, pp.48-49
The above quote is from an excellent book called “The Four Agreements,” by Don Miquel Ruiz. In this simple little book, Ruiz lays out some great advice for living in this world. The four ways of being, or agreements, he lays out are:
- Be Impeccable with Your Word
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
Of these four, “Don’t Take Anything Personally” has probably been the most impactful for me… and the toughest to implement. I reached a turning point a couple of summers ag,o when I was really going through some tough times internally. In my life, there were a lot of things that just weren’t going the way I wanted them to. Upon picking up Ruiz’s book, I discovered how much I was taking everything personally. That summer I read that chapter every day for several weeks. That’s how much I needed it!
I can’t say I’m a complete master at not taking things personally, but I do think I’ve improved. Nowadays, I think I am a bit better at seeing that other people’s actions are about them, and not about me. I think I’ve always lowered the amount of head noise that used to make me susceptible to feel guilty or bad if others said something challenging or that I didn’t like.
Here is one truly awesome passage from the chapter on not taking things personally:
Even the opinions you have about yourself are not necessarily true; therefore, you don’t need to take whatever you hear in your own mind personally.The Four Agreement, p54
This sentence may have impacted me more than any other. It struck me that, yes, my mind was talking to me, and telling me negative things. And I didn’t have to believe it. I started to get some space from my own mind. I started to feel the freedom from this. This ability has grown since then, and has perhaps been one of the most important internal shifts I’ve undergone in the last few years.
I realize this is not easy to do, but learning not to take the words and behaviors of others, nor what your own mind does personally is hugely empowering! No, it is not easy, especially if you spent decades–as I did–taking darn well everything personally!
But consider the benefits possible from being liberated from the delusion that everything anyone else says or does is about us. Don’t you think that’s a worthwhile way to see the world?
Sounds like the beginnings of freedom to me.
Don’t take it personally 🙂