One of my best friends told me that I needed to read The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz for years, and I'd always return the suggestion with a smile, nod and "Yeah, I'll check it out." I never checked it out...until recently.
I was having a heart-to-heart with my colleague about the similar journeys we were on in life, and she mentioned that she always rereads Ruiz's book to give her perspective.
"My friend always tells me to read that book. Can I borrow it?"
And just like that, the next day I was beginning my Toltec path into the practical guide to personal freedom.
For those who aren't aware of the book, Ruiz "reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering" by sharing the Toltec path, which consists of four principles.
I'm not going to give those four principles to you now, because I want you to read the book (sorry, no crib sheet here, but I definitely took handwritten notes of each chapter because I'm nerdy like that).
However, I will share one of them with you, because it's the one that resonated most with me and changed the way I perceive every situation that involves me.
Are you ready? No, seriously, are you listening?
Don't take anything personally.
It sounds simple enough, right? We hear it all the time. "Don't take this personally, but.." and what do we do right away? Take it personally.
We take everything personally. Whether it's just a bitchy attitude from someone we barely know or a guy ghosting out of nowhere, our initial response is almost always, "What did I do?"
Here's the answer--nothing.
"Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; They are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world."
I began to really think about this. I started to recall moments when I was totally caught off-guard by people's actions towards me, and it became so clear...it had nothing to do with me!
Example: You ask your boss a simple question and they snap back at you. You start to get in your feelings and scold yourself for asking a question. First of all, fuck that. Why would you make a guess at your job instead of figuring out what to do? Secondly, don't take it personal. Chances are someone else is on their ass about something, and they chose to take that aggression out on you. Is it right? No. Is it fair? No. But it happened, so what will you do about it? Just let it roll off your back.
"It does not affect me because I know what I am. I don't have the need to be accepted."
Now, let's get into the parts that really affected the way I started to see my failed relationships, and present-day dating struggles.
"When we really see other people as they are without taking it personally, we can never be hurt by what they say or do."
Example: Remember the guy I thought was the one until he ghosted on me and then emailed me to tell me that he just wasn't ready for the dating scene? What did I do right after that happened (well, after crying and freaking out)? I instantly ignored what he actually said and instead, interpreted it as I did something wrong.
What the fuck could I have done wrong in that short time? Nothing, because I didn't, but it was easier to just put the blame on myself instead of acknowledging the truth, which was this--he wasn't ready, and even if it was the fact that he just wasn't ready for me, that's enough to keep it moving, because I deserve more.
"If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you... There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally...As you make a habit of not taking anything personally, you won't need to place your trust in what others do or say."
Maybe it's just where I'm at in life that I'm willing to actually accept what I've been told for so long, or maybe I was oblivious to it before, but this has truly helped me move passed undesirable situations.
No one can control what happens to them, but we can control how we respond to what life throws at us. I tell you guys this all the time, and with this simple yet kinda mind-blowing realization, it will take so much weight off of your shoulders.
I know who I am. I know who I am as a woman, daughter, best friend, lover, employee and human, and all of that can be summed up with this: I am fucking awesome.
As long as I continue to carry myself with integrity, honesty, love and a good heart, then any shitty behavior sprung upon me by others is not about me. It's all on them.
I know this, because I know not to take anything personally.