Monday, January 18, 2016

#Mondayblogs: Don't Take This Personally #TheBestofMe #power project

As with the first agreement, the second agreement focuses on letting go of the habits and attitudes that keep us attached, upset, angry, and unenlightened.

The second agreement is "Don't take anything personally."

This is another one of those ideas that I feel I've come across in Buddhism. 

When someone says you're stupid, you take it personally. Maybe you retort with "no, you're the idiot!" Or maybe you cry. Or maybe you punch them in the face. All responses would be appropriate in these situations, by normal standards.

However, Ruiz encourages us to realize that everything out of everyone's mouth is about them not us. Because of the beliefs we hold or rather the falsehoods we believe, we perceive the world a certain way and interact with others accordingly.

Because we take someone's words or actions personally (that guy just cut me off and flipped me the bird, what an asshole!) then we become angry, upset, jealous, etc. Sure this all sounds simple on paper, Ruiz, but if you'd told my 20-year-old self not to take my ex-girlfriend's infidelty personally, I would have clawed someone's eyes out! 

But this isn't an idea that is limited to The Four Agreements, but reoccurs throughout the ages. Shakespeare says, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” which is the same idea because we're thinking "hey look what happened to me!" 

And in Buddhism the same is emphasized--that our attachments to outcomes or our expectations for moments create the conflict. We make every minute of our lives "all about me". 

So what must I let go in order to honor the second agreement:

-My need for praise or positive affirmations (But like Rubin, I love those gold stars!)
-My belief that a person's poor behavior or attitudes have anything to do with me

-concern regarding what other's think of me (or my work by extension)
-the idea that I must do or say or believe anything to be loved
-taking myself or my life too seriously, as this is also taking it personally.
-inner self-criticism/negative internal dialogue, which is also making it all about me, when it's not.

Yeahhhh....wish me luck! 


  1. Good luck!

    If you're a Buddhist, I'm sure you've practised meditation. You'll be used to the idea that meditation is hard work, for all it seems like serenely sitting there and thinking about nothing, and one of the big tricks is to notice when you've stopped meditating, accept it and start again without getting angry about it.

    I'm far from perfect about not taking things personally, and I don't frame my philosophy that way (I'm more of a Daoist than a Buddhist for one thing) but I would say from hard-won personal experience the same lesson as with meditation applies. You will screw up but if you accept that, forgive yourself and try again, it does get easier and you will get better. And while I don't know if it will work for you, and for me happiness wasn't my goal, it generally made me more stable and less angry and able to evaluate criticism and take justified criticism without spiralling down and (mostly) ignore unjustified criticism - all of which sound like pretty desirable outcomes for you.

    So good luck!

    1. I'm not really a Buddhist. I just studied Buddhism and believe in some of its core precepts. I'm some kind of pagan-buddhist-nature worshipping-humanitarian agnostic, truth be told ;)