One of the 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz is “Don’t Take Anything Personally.” It is a very powerful agreement, because if we really master this and don’t take anything personally, then we would be able to stop so many disagreements, avoid lots of pain and suffering and reduce drama in our life. However, it is so easy to say, but very hard to do. How do you not take something personally, even if someone directly insults you?
What usually happens is that someone will say or do something “to us”, let’s say someone fails to thank us, ignores us, or even calls us stupid. We tend to think what they say or do is about us, so we take it personally. We do that because we interpret the action in a way that is personal (e.g. they didn’t thank me because they don’t respect me, they ignored me because they don’t like me) or we believe there is truth to what they say (e.g. I guess I must be stupid.)
But as soon as we interpret things this way, we choose to take in mental poison. We think that what the other person does and says is because of us. But nothing other people do or say is because of us. It is because of themselves. Everyone lives in their own world, has their own programming, their own views, mental baggage, feelings, stresses, issues, moods and beliefs.
So if we can realize in the moment that whatever someone is saying or doing is because of themselves, not because of us, we can break the cycle. Otherwise, what happens is that we feel offended, so we now try to defend our beliefs and create conflicts. We feel that we need to prove that we are right and the other person is wrong. But really, we just have our own programming, views, mental baggage, feelings and beliefs that might be different from the other person.
In order to practice, it helps to have a phrase we can say to ourselves to remind ourselves when someone says or does something that feels like it is about us. Here are some ideas:
– “What you are saying and doing has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you.”
– “You are projecting your own mental baggage onto me.”
– “I know this is not about me.”
– “I love and respect you and I don’t care what you think about me.”
You can come up with your own phrase that resonates the most for you.
In his book “The Power of Intention”, Dr. Wayne Dyer explains that when you allow the opinions of others to be more important than your opinions of yourself, you lose self-respect. Why would you put your opinions of yourself below those of another person? You deserve to believe that you are valuable and worthy. For more on this topic, check out: Don’t Take Anything Personally.