"Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering." - Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)
What a joy and an experience it is for me to dive deeply again back into The Four Agreements Book but also this particular agreement. I have been reading and studying The Four Agreements since it came out in 1997 and I am still "practicing" each agreement daily. Some days go better than others! I had the pleasure of interviewing Don Miguel Ruiz on my radio show some years ago and he was very down to earth and genuine in the way he shared his beliefs and experiences around each agreement. He says, "If I can do it, you can do it. We are all humans and it is simply a practice.”
I have always considered this book to be for the brave souls who want to fully commit to finding emotional and spiritual freedom. These Four Agreements are not for the faint of heart and require much self-love, mindfulness and living fully immersed in the present moment.
Since it’s been some time since I read the book by Don Miguel Ruiz, I have refamiliarized myself with all of the Four Agreements. I have become very mindful on how without even noticing it, these agreements can fall by the wayside. So, I decided to become much more attentive to living these agreements again.
The Four Agreements #2 - Don’t Take Anything Personally
Agreement Two – “Don't Take Anything Personally” has been showing up in my life like crazy and giving me much to work on. I have truly taken time to use each situation to step into choices that give me the tools to take this agreement on headfirst. I have seen for myself this month that once I practice the art of not taking anything personally, my life became much more joyous, peaceful and less repetitive.
It reminds me to let the power of our own self-love become so strong that we no longer need to live according to other’s opinion. Trusting ourselves completely with the choices we make and standing by those decisions gives us the extra boost of confidence needed to be true to ourselves.
The core idea to take away from the second agreement is that people say and do things based on a multitude of other things that have nothing to do with you. It may come from their own projections, fears, pain, triggers and past wounds or simply a different understanding of the world than yours.
Change Your Reactions
You cannot always control what is going on around you or what is going to happen to you, but you can certainly control your reaction. Your reaction is a clue and guidepost to what type of life you have. Blissful or chaotic. Why? Because what makes you happy or unhappy is not always what is happening around you, but how you choose to react to it and how your reactions shape the outcome. If you learn to change your own reactions, then you can change your habits, routines and your life.
For me, not taking anything personally does not mean that I will not have a reaction or act. It means that the initial reaction is not simply based on what has been said or done to you. It is based on tuning in and gaining clarity on if this experience is really about you or not. When one reacts from clarity and not auto-pilot, we have a greater opportunity to not say or do something we will later regret.
Often times it is said that this agreement is a "get out of jail free pass" due to the fact that if we say something to someone that upsets them it is their issue, not ours. Keep in mind when we are truly living and practicing the second agreement, we are also living the other three agreements as well.
As a reminder:
- Four Agreements Number One - Be Impeccable with Your Word means you are using your words to uplift and not tear down.
- Four Agreements Number Three - Don't make Assumptions means we ask questions and not just react to what is being said or done to gain clarity.
- Four Agreements Number Four - Always Do Your Best means you are making higher vibrational choices from love and not fear.
When you merge all of these Four Agreements, they work together so that you are responsible for your thoughts, words and actions. It requires responsibility on our end on how we are showing up in the world and interacting with others.
When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you can avoid many upsets in your life. Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear. Remind yourself as often as possible that your job here on Earth is to walk your path and live in alignment with your purpose. It is vital to stay true to the person and life you have created. In this you are less likely to take anything anyone says or does personally because you know you are living your life right and not doing to others what you do not want done to you. Make sense?
Examples of Taking Nothing Personally
I recently decided to enroll myself in the "Take Nothing Personally" Spiritual Bootcamp and made it a conscious priority to stay present and stick to this agreement while practicing the other three agreements as well. These are some of my experiences pertaining to situations in which I had the opportunity to take things personally.
Experience #1: Restaurant Episode
My boyfriend and I went out to dinner last weekend and as soon as we walked in, we were greeted by an empty hostess station. No big deal but 15 minutes later we are experiencing the same thing. During this time no one came up to greet us or explain what was going on. I watched many staff members pass by us, overlook us and not speak to us. The restaurant was not busy, and it felt like they were talking to each other and totally oblivious that we were there.
Since it was boot camp week, I reminded myself not to take it personally. Trust me there are many times in my life that I have chosen to make it known that I am taking this personally and made it my business to let everyone know this is not how you run a business. I could have also taken it personally that they were all simply ignoring us or being rude. I became increasingly aware that this was an opportunity to not make it about me and wait it out.
Finally, the manager came over, apologized intently and explained that their chef had just walked out and they were in the middle of trying to figure out how to handle the situation. So, there you go! Nothing to do with us personally. It ended up working out quite nicely. A back up chef had come in, the restaurant bought us a bottle of wine and we had a great evening.
Experience #2: Traffic Episode
I am sure most of you have been stuck in traffic with someone who suffers from road rage. I am a very observant driver and tend to go the speed limit and follow the rules of the road. One afternoon driving home from teaching a yoga class I experienced the wrath of a driver who thought I was going to slow and did not turn quick enough at the stop light. He honked his horn, yelled out some obscenities and proceeded to race past me. I did a quick check in and became very present and knew I was not driving any way that should make someone behave that way.
Instead of taking it personally and yelling something back at him or taking it to heart I truly just sent him light and love and realized he must truly be a miserable, unhappy soul. Maybe he just lost his job, or his wife dumped him. Who knows? However, it was another grand life experience in which we have a choice to lower our vibration or go with the flow and not take it personally.
Experience #3: The Neighbor Episode
This was one of my favorite lessons in not taking anything personally and also to not make assumptions. Part of the experience of the Four Agreements is to realize that all Four agreements truly work together and make living these principals more realistic and assist each other in leading a life where you are responsible for yourself and your actions. One morning I was leaving my house to run an errand and I waved to my neighbor who is always friendly, talkative and full of smiles. This particular morning, he just stared at me and did not wave or smile. In fact, I felt in that moment he was actually giving me a face that looked unhappy and a bit mean.
At first, I slipped into auto pilot and begin to think perhaps I did something wrong to him or something that made him mad at me. Old triggers jumped in quick from getting that stare in childhood for no reason. I scanned my brain and took a quick inventory of things and truly felt that there was nothing I could have done recently for this sudden change in his behavior towards me. I chose in that moment to not take it personally. I simply just let it go.
A couple of days later while I was doing my morning walk, he was out doing yard work and flagged me down with a smile. He apologized for his odd behavior the other day, letting me know that he had just received some bad news about a loved one and that he was in a complete fog. It was so obvious that it had nothing to do with me. How many times have we jumped to the conclusion in situations similar to that it was all about us or something we did? Another great lesson learned.
4 Tips to Stay Centered, Grounded and in the Moment
The more present I am the more likely I am not operating on autopilot. Which makes it easier to truly not take anything personally. Remember, it is a work in progress, a new pattern and a new way of being! Be easy on yourself and take it one experience at a time.
- Stop worrying so much about what others think of you. Remember what someone thinks of you is really none of your business, and that their words, actions, and behaviors have little or nothing to do with you, but a lot to do with who they are themselves. It is your business to feel good about yourself and how you show up in the world. When you are being your best and coming from love and not fear you are more likely to be thoughtful, kind and compassionate with yourself and others.
- Stop giving away your power! When you let other people and circumstances upset you, you're allowing them to dictate how you feel. You are in charge of your feelings. Remember only you can make you happy or unhappy by your choices and how you choose to react to someone else.
- Make inner peace your highest goal. When I am faced with a person or a situation that pulls me off my center, I first remember to not take it personally. Then I ask myself how I might be able to communicate with this person in a way that would make me better, not bitter. I also will see if there is a way to handle the situation that will not disturb my own inner peace. However, this is not always easy. I know that only I am in charge of my thoughts, words and actions and reactions! Taking responsibility for my own happiness and inner peace is my job. I believe that most people who lash out, make judgments or are purposefully hurtful are deeply hurting with themselves and have not done the inner work to heal their wounds. I know that my own happiness effects how I am towards others. Best reason to make it a priority to choose happiness!
- Remember, we are human! Of course, there will be times we take things personally. During those times do your best to remember it is a chance to change your perception and look at it as a gift to grow even more spiritually mature. Ask “What can I learn from this experience?” rather than “Why is this happening to me?” to ensure you are gaining knowledge and wisdom.
This agreement as with all of the Four Agreements is a daily practice and a work in progress for. I love the challenge to rise above the fears and come from spiritual love for self and others. That is why we are here on planet Earth to learn and grow. We are truly spiritual beings having a human experience learning to bring heaven to Earth!
Feel free to reach out to me at extension 9393 if you would like to gain some more insight on how to incorporate this agreement (or any of the Four Agreements) into your life. I trust that when you give this a try you will find more love, abundance, well-being and inner peace coming into your life!
As always, in gratitude!