Sunday, 12 October 2014

Don't take things personally

The Four Agreements .. picture from Pinterest
One of the lessons from the well known book 'The Four Agreements' by Don Miguel Ruiz is 'Don't Take Things Personally'. This is a big lesson for me, because I've been a seasoned pro when it comes to takings things personally. Taking things personally generally stems from low self esteem and not having our emotional needs met. We end up having expectations of how other people should behave and treat us, or how life should be, and when these expectations are violated, it's easy for our egos to go into overdrive.
- Why did that person speak to me like that on the phone? I'll get him, the bastard.
- So and so just ignored me, hasn't replied to my message that I sent two days ago.
- I got rejected again, it must mean that no-one loves me.
- People are so horrible, must mean I'm doing something wrong.

Speaking from experience, sometimes my reaction to an emotionally charged situation can be automatic - even if I don't verbalise my feelings, I can feel stress building up in my body. It does take time to re-train the mind to think differently. Some things I'm learning along the journey are ..

1) Learning to love myself. The more you love yourself, the less you will need other people to validate you. Taking things personally, particularly in the case of romance and close friendship, comes as a result of looking to others to show that we are valuable, good people. Of course, someone could come along and make you feel great for a little while - but if that person leaves, you are back to square one, and could end up feeling worse. Your worth has to start with yourself. It does take time to see yourself as a good person, particularly if your needs for love and acceptance were not met in childhood. But it's possible.

2) Standing back from the situation. This is a hard one for me. Being highly sensitive, excessive mental stimulation is hard for me. I don't enjoy high pressure situations at work, and particularly in the last 2 to 3 years, I've been working in pressure cooker environments. I find it hard not to take things personally when work doesn't get done, even though I know I'm doing the best I can. But sometimes you have to separate a difficult situation from being part of YOU. Most work environments these days are hard to an extent, and knowing that other people are going through similar challenges can make things a little less personal.

3) Don't be so attached to outcomes. Again, this comes down to expectation and looking to external situations to validate us. It is easy to hope (and pray) that someone we like, feels the same way, or that we will get the job we want that we have an interview for. But it doesn't always work out like that - whilst positive thinking does help, it does not guarantee that everything will work out how we would like. It is important to stay flexible and be open to what life has for your highest good. When someone rejects us romantically, it doesn't make us a bad person - we just have to get back on our feet and move on.

Our egos love to take things personally - as proof that we are a 'poor little me' who didn't have their needs met and that people are out to get us. But there comes a time when you realise that taking everything personally doesn't really get you very far. So it's a habit I'm trying to break out of.

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