The Four Agreements has given me a nice reminder about the importance of not taking things personally. It is something that I have gotten better about with time, but there is always room for improvement! The first time I was ever presented with the idea that peace of mind could come from not taking things personally was when I took a certificate course in dispute resolution years ago. In the book Getting to Yes, one of the recommended readings for the course, they speak about separating the person from the problem. They advise you to not let your emotional feelings about the people involved cloud your judgement when it comes to resolving a problem. This is easier said then done, especially when you have had years of practice in taking things personally!
The reality is that that the actions and thoughts of others have nothing to do with us, so why do we take it to heart when the people in our lives do or say things that don’t resonate with us? We take offense when people whose opinions we respect critique us or do something that we don’t find pleasing because we assume that they are doing it on purpose, to hurt us, but is that really the case? Is it really possible that the people in our lives are conspiring to make us unhappy? Unless you’re a die-hard conspiracy theorist, the belief that the world is out to get you may sound a bit ridiculous, so what is the alternative explanation?
Realizing that the world does not revolve around you and that people have more going on in their lives than worrying about your feelings may be a bit of a wake-up call, but it’s the truth. We take things personally because we make everything about us. Self-centred? You bet, but it is the nature of anyone who holds a victim mentality. “People are always doing things to piss me off.” “Why do all these bad things keep happening to me?” “Why doesn’t anyone think about how I feel?” If you are the kind of person who lives their life pleasing others, you know that it is exhausting to always be taking into consideration how others will deal with your choices. It leaves you trapped in a self-created prison, without the freedom to live the life you want and achieve your own happiness. Is that the kind of life you want for the people in your life or yourself?
The other thing about taking things personally is that we are hurt by the words of others when they call us names or put us down because there is a part of us that believes it to be true. When we are strong in your awareness of self and we have high self-esteem and self-confidence, those negative comments and put-downs have no strength, no ability to hurt us. We are the ones who give power to the thoughts and actions of others. We always have a choice, and we can choose to believe what others say about us, or we can choose to listen to our heart, our inner truth. It takes a strong, confident person to say, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, and actually believe it.
Learning not to take things personally is a challenging, yet important lesson to learn. Worry about the opinions of others will only hold you back from achieving your dreams and living the life you want and deserve. You can’t change what others say or do, but you can change how you react to those things. You have a choice to be hurt and crippled by the words of others, or you can find strength in your connection to the powerful source of all creation and continue to listen to the voice inside you that tells you that as a child of God you are a living example of his greatness and let that shine in all that you do! ♥
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