Nothing Personal

by Randi G. Fine
(Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)

Sicks and Stones

Sicks and Stones

“Whatever you think, whatever you feel, I know is your problem and not my problem. It is the way you see the world. It is nothing personal, because you are dealing with yourself, not with me.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements.

Why do most of us find it so difficult in the face of an insult to not take it personally? The concept of “Not taking things personally,” is easy to understand but very hard to apply.

The first thing to remember is that we can’t control what others say to us, but we can control our reaction. That is easier said than done. When someone demeans our character, insults us, or gives us a backhanded compliment, our natural response is to question our own worth. We analyze their comment, trying to figure out why that person said what they did and if we deserved it. Why do we consider the validity of others’ viewpoints when they criticize us?

Everyone views the world differently and everyone has opinions. What is important to remember is that opinions are just opinions; they are not absolute truths. They are based on a variety of influences that have nothing to do with us. Others’ comments are projections of their own issues and inadequacies, they are not about us. Still it is very difficult to not take offense.

Many of us fear rejection. When we take things personally, we take a rejection that is not about us and make it about us. We give away our personal power and disrespect our integrity. This reaction is based on our own insecurities, our need for acceptance and approval, and/or from unresolved issues. Few of us are 100 percent happy with ourselves, we all have weak areas. This feeling of inadequacy, no matter how miniscule, allows the ill-intentions of others to cause us to question our self-worth.

The best way to retrain our responses is to retrain our mind. It takes practice and strength to change the pattern. The word “Me” is a key factor in our awareness. Whenever we hear ourselves saying something like, “How could they say that to me,” recognize that we have personally taken on the importance of the statement. We have to accept that not everyone will like us, and that we don’t have to go out of our way to please others to be liked. When we heal our sore spots we are better equipped to let things roll off our back.

“When you make it a strong habit not to take anything personally, you avoid many upsets in your life. Your anger, jealousy, and envy will disappear, and even your sadness will simply disappear if you don’t take things personally.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements.

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