Someone asked me recently what it means to “not take it personal.” Good question… How do I explain that one?
Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements says of his Agreement, Don’t take anything personally,”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.”
Ok, that’s all fine and dandy but how do we not take something another has said or done personally? Maybe asking ourselves some questions would be helpful.
1) Did they truly mean to put me down? I mean REALLY intend on causing me to feel bad?
Usually, if we think about the other person, who they are, their personality, their circumstances, we often come away saying, “No, this wasn’t about me. It’s about them.”
2) Am I making assumptions?
Often we jump to conclusions without any definite evidence to support our conclusion.
3) Am I being insecure?
Sometimes we don’t feel good about ourselves. When we don’t feel good about who we are and what we bring to the table in any given situation, we can tend to feel that others will feel the same way about us as we feel about ourselves.
When you get that knot in the pit of your stomach when you are in an interpersonal exchange, ask yourself the above questions. If you feel good about yourself, you don’t think you are making assumptions, you think the other person isn’t trying to be evil to you, but you still have that knot… Ask the other person some questions, “What do you mean by that? I want clarification because it sounds like you are saying ______ about me. Or am I off base?”
If questions 2 and 3 above seem to be tripping you up in life, there’s help for that. Sometimes a little coaching is called for, sometimes it takes some counseling or psychotherapy. You definitely don’t have to live your life taking things personally!