If our purpose is to enjoy life, then how do we proceed? I think don Miguel Ruiz provides many answers to this question in his books; starting with The Four Agreements.
The 1st agreement is to be impeccable with your word. What does this mean? We use our words to create. Our thoughts, ideas, feelings and beliefs are expressed with words. So in a sense we create the reality we experience using words.
To be impeccable with your word is to use your word in ways that create what you want. Words are signals to the mind that cause it to go to work toward creating what we tell it. One of the most important things I ever learned was: The mind will work toward creating anything based on what we tell it. The shocking part is: It does not care if it creates something undesirable! It trusts us to be responsible for the input that we provide it. We can create heaven or hell and it all depends on how impeccably we use our word.
In the 2nd agreement don Miguel suggests that we don’t take anything personally.
We take something personally every time we think that something is about “me”. An emotional reaction to what someone has said about us is an indication that we have taken them personally.
Imagine how much stress, sadness and drama we could eliminate by mastering this agreement!
If someone were to call you incompetent and you consciously or unconsciously believed it was true, you would get an emotional reaction. The more you believe it, the stronger the reaction.
As soon as you take something personally the drama begins and stress, anger, and negative emotions erupt, and this often leads to an undesirable outcome.
People often make a sport of pushing other peoples buttons so they can get a reaction and play with how the drama unfolds. Even if no harm is done, it perpetuates the idea that we need to adjust who we are so we can conform to the beliefs and expectations of others. It engages the domestication program that tells us we need to fit in so that we can be accepted. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of our authenticity.
The Toltec Path is a path of freedom from taking things personally. It is a path that not only leads one away from self-importance, it leads one to the acceptance of yourself and others. Unconditional acceptance (warts and all) of yourself and others opens the door to unconditional love.
I remember one time when someone was trying to push my buttons purely for sport and/or entertainment. I don’t recall what he was accusing me of, but I do recall saying to him : “ I don’t understand; what do you mean?” So he tried to explain it to me more in-depth, to which I responded by saying: “ What does this have to do with me?” Once again he tried to go more in depth about his allegation, and as he did, he began to blush and stammer until he said: “ You know; here I am trying to jerk your chain, and it isn’t working! Now I am the one feeling embarrassed!”
I will never forget that interaction because it revealed the power of The Second Agreement: “Don’t take anything personally”. On that day it would not have mattered if what he said was true about me or not. I knew that whatever he was saying was about him and not me. The fact that he got embarrassed seemed to prove that!
What other people say or believe about us, is not about us, it is about them, and what they see is distorted by their personal lens that they view the world through. We are not responsible for the way others perceive the world.... they are! The world is a mirror that reflects our own perceptual reality back to us. What we see may be true for us, but not necessarily for anyone else.
We can only take something personally if we believe what is said and then we give them the power to be an authoritative judge figure who we feel we need to be compliant to. We can never be our authentic self by trying to please everybody so that we can be accepted. So why do we do it? Again, it is because we live in a world that continually reinforces our dysfunctional domestic programming. We were taught garbage therefore, we practiced garbage. Then we became garbage masters and we accepted it as a way of life only because we did not know a better way at the time. When one realizes that this fear-based system ( the old paradigm) of control is flawed, one can become open to new possibilities that are based on non-judgmental acceptance, intelligent cooperation, truth, and love.
I developed a verbal self-defense method based on The 2nd Agreement. If you catch someone trying to get you to take something personally and you want them to stop, simply say in a kind and gentle way: “ You know, if I thought what you believed about me was true I would react. Since I know that this is not true about me, I have no need to react.” Then smile and with the energy of love and acceptance, look deep into their eyes and just let it all go. Chances are they will not see you as a potential victim ever again!
I would like to end this post with a relevant quote from don Miguel Ruiz from his Four Agreements Wisdom cards:
“ All of the sadness and drama you have lived in your life was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally. The whole world of control between humans is based on that. Take a moment and consider this.”
--don Miguel Ruiz
My next post will be about The Third Agreement: “Don’t make assumptions”