I’ve probably read Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements at least a few times. His four maxims consist of the following: 1) Be Impeccable With Your Words; 2) Don’t Make Assumptions; 3) Don’t Take Anything Personally and 4) Always Do Your Best. The rules are simple in construction, but monumental to integrate and practice in life.
I struggle to not take things personally. For instance, yesterday my daughter and I decided to stop for a yogurt treat after school. When we walked in, my daughter saw some of her classmates and squealed in excitement even though they only saw each other about 15 minutes ago. The mothers know me, but chose not to include me in their conversation. I hung out with my daughter and her classmates, wondering why I should even care if the mothers talked to me. I tried to dismiss my feelings and knew this was one of those moments that I shouldn’t really take personally. I only know these mothers because our children are in the same classroom. There is no requirement that we should be friends. In my head, I say, “Get over it! It really doesn’t matter.”
When I had an acquaintance label me as “being politically correct”, I cringed and took that comment to heart. I’ve never craved labels and for some reason, that statement struck me as being unauthentic. The truth is I really strive to live an honest and authentic life, attempting to immerse myself in meaning and character. I wondered for days why this person perceived my personality in this manner. Ultimately, I took it personally, but didn’t have any reason to. I sometimes forget that what people say or don’t say reflects their own personal insecurities and in reality has very little to do with me. I am not the center of everyone’s universe. This I believe is integral in realizing that many times other’s actions have really nothing to do with me, but some issue that is plaguing them.
I often think about all of the things I carry at the end of the day. The driver who cut me off in traffic or the evite invitation I didn’t get. I actively forget all of the goodness in my life. There are good things I can carry with me and take personally. For my birthday this past year, one of my very good artist friends made me a pottery mug so I could drink my coffee while I write. During Thanksgiving, another wonderful friend made my family pumpkin bread and cookies. Just because she wanted to. My daughter’s hugs and her I love you’s are another thing that I could take really personally. That kind of personal feels exceptionally good. And these are only some of the examples of goodness in my life and the ones that I’ve only chose to highlight. There is more sweetness that I treasure inside of me.
What I’ve realized is that the negative is really in the periphery. But because of my tendency to carry negative experiences with me, I’ve made the periphery my sole pathway.
It’s deciding what you want to carry. I am focusing on the highlights and it is one of the ways I am going to honor my hours. You can make that choice too. Take the goodness really personally.
Do you take things personally? What’s your way of putting a negative experience out of your mind? Any words of advice on focusing on what is truly important?