Don’t take anything personally. (The second Agreement)
-Don Miguel Ruiz
(As appeared in Facebook)
Commentary by Sudhir Krishnan
We normally assume that everything people say and do to us is about us. Thus we are conditioned to take what people throw at us personally. The truth is that everything people do is about them, and not us. Somebody may call me a stupid fool. Now if I take it personally, my ego gets hurt. I feel offended. Then I try to get back to the person who made me feel bad. I might decide to give him back a dosage of what he gave me, and the conflict escalates. Or I might give him proof that he is wrong by attacking his beliefs and opinions with mine. Either way, nothing fruitful comes out of this and I end up feeling miserable. I waste my time, energy and my mind because I decided to take what someone said personally.
Each of us is living in our own mind. Each person’s life is a completely personal dream. Each person’s dream is based on their conditioning - their past karma. When we take something personally, we assume that others know what is in our dream world, which is far from true. Even when the situation seems so direct as in when someone insults you, people are simply acting out of their own feelings, opinions and beliefs, and it has nothing to do with you.
A good illustration of this can be observed from the very responses to postings on this page. Even though the posting is exactly the same, different people feel differently about it. Some of you may agree and give praise. Some of you may partly agree. And some may completely disagree and criticize the posting. If I decide to take every response personally, then I would end up totally confused each time, as there will always be contradictions between one person’s response and some other person’s response to the same post.
Also, the nature of the mind is that of duality. It is so common for couples to say "I love you" and "I hate you" to each other, depending on their dominant emotion. Which of this is true? When someone is in a good mood, he might tell me “Sudhir - what a wonderful person you are”. After a few days, when he is in a bad mood, the same person says “Sudhir - you are such a devil”. What can I take personally?
If someone says I am fat, I do not take it personally
If someone says I am ugly, I do not take it personally
If someone says I am brilliant, I do not take it personally
If someone says I am stupid, I do not take it personally
If someone says I am most wonderful, I do not take it personally
Even if someone wants to kill me, I do not take it personally!
It is totally upto us to take some one's emotional poison and make it ours. If we know that nothing other people say or do is about us, then we are completely set free. When we don’t take things personally, the need for us to get approval from outside is completely gone. We then find that our anger, jealousy, envy and sadness are gone. We will find ourselves to be more centered, more at peace with ourselves, no matter what someone throws at us.