In the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, he says: “Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.” Great thoughts, wonderful book.
Most of us get hung up on “Don’t take anything personally”. How do we even do that? When someone directs something at us, it feels pretty personal. Whether it’s a slight, an insult, an unasked for critique, a thoughtless comment, or a passive aggressive remark that feels like a gut punch – it feels personal. How do we not take it personally?
So here’s the simple – not easy – answer. Whatever someone does, it comes from them. It’s about them. What’s about you, what’s personal, is your response. We can consider what someone is saying and decide if there is truth in it. We can tell someone not to speak to us like that or act like that. We can walk away or hang up the phone or log off or turn off the computer. We can ask someone to approach something differently so we can discuss something in a mutually respectful way – which may or may not work. We can take a breath and not say anything right in the moment.
Ruiz says: “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally…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.” He suggests a good response is to laugh.
We do what is most loving to us. When we come from a loving place, we do what’s for our highest good and that offers love to all. And that’s no guarantee that anyone will accept that love and change their behavior. That’s their business. Our business is to take loving care of ourselves, fill up with that loving feeling and spill it over to others. From there, it’s up to them.
And in that filled up place of love, that soft, loving cushion, we better understand that how someone acts is coming from whatever they are holding inside of them. That’s all about them. We may choose to change or adjust based on what they have to say. But that comes from our initiative, our choice, what’s loving for us. And that’s all about us.