That’s the second agreement of Don Miguel Ruiz’s classic, “The Four Agreements.”
I need a reminder today. So I open his book to that chapter and read:
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.
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…Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians. They can hook you easily with one little opinion and feed you whatever poison they want, and because you take it personally, you eat it up….
But if you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell. Immunity in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement.
I’m not there yet. I am way too sensitive and way too vulnerable to the opinions of others. Where I HAVE made progress the last month is that I no longer read articles from a website that published material that upset me too consistently. I took a hiatus from that site. I also go through the equivalent of the FDA security process at the airport whenever I open a book. “Is this going to make me feel worse?” I ask myself, and if I can’t answer the question, or I find myself nodding, then I put it on the shelf to read when I reach a more resilient place.
But what I CAN’T control are the opinions of the people that I’ll run into during the day, those who haven’t managed a severe mood disorder and try to convince me that acupuncture, meditation, and yoga cure absolutely every illness. Or those that say the way I run my house is wrong because usually nothing is organized. I can’t control those situations.
So I sit down and try to soak in as much of Ruiz’s message that will penetrate the gray matter of my brain. He writes:
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…Don’t take anything personally because by taking things personally you set yourself up to suffer for nothing….When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do. Even if others lie to you, it is okay. They are lying to you because they are afraid.
There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally. You become immune to black magicians, and no spell can affect you regardless of how strong it may be. The whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune. Someone can intentionally send emotional poison, and if you don’t take it personally, you will not eat it. When you don’t take the emotional poison, it becomes even worse in the sender, but not in you.
As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won’t need to place your trust in what others do or say. You will only need to trust yourself to make responsible choices. You are never responsible for the actions of others; you are only responsible for you. When you truly understand this, and refuse to take things personally, you can hardly be hurt by the careless comments or actions of others.
If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jun 2010
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Borchard, T. (2010). The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 7, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/06/06/the-second-agreement-dont-take-anything-personally/